I am trying to create a system for teaching ESL students phrasal verbs based on the concepts contributed by the element. (For example, "up" frequently contributes the idea of finality or completion).
I was wondering if there are any phrasal verb theories that suggest there are elements that do something non-conceptual, or, to say it another way, something other than contributing a meaning.
Some phrasal verbs have obviously developed from others rather than being built on strictly conceptual bases. "Coffee up" is word play on idioms like "drink up", for example.
But others like "hold up" I don't know. I started speculating that, in common usage, "hold up" is used more often in the passive voice, like
Our train is being held up by an accident.
An accident is holding up our train.
However, the verb "to hold" is transitive, so that our ear wants a direct object after it. "Up" is not a direct object, but perhaps it developed as a DO placeholder?
I am not promoting this theory. This is just an example of the type of theory I am talking about. My question is whether theories like this exist and where I can find them. Thanks.