Is there an exhaustive list of the prepositions/adverbs/particles that can contribute to a phrasal verb?

And is there any 'verb-part' that can be used with the entire list?

  • How far have you worked on it? What references have you accessed?
    – Kris
    Feb 22, 2013 at 10:38
  • @Kris, well I searched here and didn't find anything :)
    – Benjol
    Feb 22, 2013 at 10:41
  • Good that you did; many don't. However, ELU is not everything. There are other resources online I believe.
    – Kris
    Feb 22, 2013 at 10:44

3 Answers 3


I've no idea if it is an authoritative source, but Phrasal Verb Demon cites these:

About, across, apart, around, aside, away, back, by, down, forward, in, off, on, out, over, round, through, together, up

Though it doesn't say that this is an exhaustive list.

Maybe I should write a script to analyse their dictionary to find out the 'winner'.


I'm quite sure there's no exhaustive list for the same reason that there's no dictionary that defines all the words. The language is fluid and evolving all the time. However, there are certain words that occur in phrasal verbs more often than others. You can add to your list: for, under, after, ahead

  • Some prepositions (particles) only appear with one kind of "phrasal verb". Of, at, for, and to, for instance, appear as transitivizing prepositions with many verbs, but never with a transitive phrasal verb that allows Particle Shift: *think it of, *look it at, *defer him to, *pray him for. Feb 22, 2013 at 19:57

The 'Oxford Dictionary of phrasal verbs' (1993 & perhaps later editions) includes other particles in their list of 'idioms' (their term) (I'd prefer multi-word verbs as the term for these multi-word structures):

rise above

go / come up against

go / run aground

get along

get along with

set apart

absolve from

rip / tear into

get out of

go overboard (about / for)

work towards

abscond with

How unitary these constructions are (ie should they rather be considered verb + head of prepositional phrase structures) is often debatable.

I'd certainly consider fall among(/st) (thieves) unitary.


I've rediscovered the following (Multi-word Verbs in Early Modern English, Claridge):

The following list of possible particles in phrasal verbs is based on those in Quirk et al (1985:1151), Cowie and Mackin (1975:lxxx) and Fraser (1976:5), as well as my own data (cf. also Bolinger 1971:17f):

aback, aboard, about, above, across, after, ahead, along, apart, around, ashore, aside, astray, asunder, away, back, behind, by, counter, down, forth, forward/s, home, in, off, on, out, over, past, round, through, to, together, under, up

This is not a complete list (which might be hard to achieve anyway, according to Bolinger) ...

The italicized items in the list can be used as prepositions [ie take a noun group] as well.

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