Some phrasal verbs can be both: separable and non-separable.  

 

Separable: A phrasal verb is said to be separable when a noun or pronoun object can come between the verb and the particle that make up the phrasal verb.

 

Non-separable: When a phrasal verb is described as non-separable, it means the particle cannot be separated from the verb; that is, a noun or pronoun object cannot come between the verb and the particle. The object can only come after the verb and the particle of the phrasal verb. 

 

 

The following examples show words that make up a phrasal verb can be used both ways: separately and non-separately.

 

Examples:

  • Separable: The rescuers called the search off because of the worsening weather.
    (The noun search is between verb called and the particle offCall off = stop doing something)
  • Separable: Dad turned the television on
    (Turn on = switch on something so that it starts working.)
  • Non-separable: Someone tried to break into the warehouse during the night..
    (The two words of the phrasal verb cannot be separated. Noun object warehouse comes after the particle into.)
  • Non-separable: She looks after her aging mother.
    (Look after = take care of)