Idiomatic Verbs. Definition, Examples and Exercise

Definition: Idiomatic verbs are idioms. Idioms don’t mean what they seem to say. If understood literally, idioms often don’t make sense. We understand idioms because we use them all the time. Idioms in any language are challenging for people learning that language.

Idiomatic verbs are also called phrasal verbs since it takes a phrase to make the meaning complete. They are made up of a verb and a preposition.


  • Ella tore up the letter after she read it.
  •   Their car broke down two miles out of town.
  •   Did the manager deal with that customer’s complaint.


Hint :-  Prepositions usually have objects when they are part of a prepositional phrase. If the preposition does not have an object and is not an adverb, it might be part of an idiomatic verb.

Even though their meaning is not literal, we understand idiomatic verbs because we use them frequently. When using idiomatic verbs, many new English speakers often make mistakes.


When writing idiomatic verbs, writers run into trouble when they put words between parts of an idiomatic verb. Other times, writers try to give intransitive idiomatic verbs direct objects

Transitive : Some idiomatic verbs are transitive and can be separated by a noun or pronoun.

  • The choir sang carols.
  • She left London on June 6.


Intransitive: Some are intransitive; they do not take a direct object.

  • Pete always sings in the bath.
  • I want to leave early.


     Find out Idiomatic verbs from the examples for exercise

  •    Be sure to put on a life jacket before getting into the boat.
  •   We left out the trash for pickup.
  •        It’s time to get on the plane.
  •       What will she think up next?
  •      I’m having some trouble working out the solution to this equation.
  •       We’re going to have to put off our vacation until next year.
  •         Stand up when speaking in class, please.
  •        We’ll Have to wake up early if we want breakfast.
  • ·      Take off your shoes before you walk on the carpet.
  • ·      My dog likes to break out of his kennel to chase squirrels.

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