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are both phrases correct? E.g. She set a trap up for her brothet-in-law. He set up a trap in secret.

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  • Or you could just say "set a trap". The "up" is not required.
    – Tim Foster
    May 28 '19 at 12:17
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I believe, it's a separable phrasal verb, so you could say both without changing the meaning, so I would say both are correct. A lot of phrasal verbs with two parts are separable and without changing the meaning. E.g. I picked my wife up from the airport. I picked up my wife from the airport. Or: I took my wife out to dinner. I took out my wife to dinner.

If the object is a pronoun though, then it must go between the parts of the phrasal verb. E.g. She set it (the trap) up. NOT: She set up it (the trap.)

This whole spiel only applies to two part phrasal verbs with objects though.

ALSO, set a trap means you prepare it to be sprung, whereas set up a trap is to set up the trap "mechanism" from scratch. The meaning often overlaps though.

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  • Right. The technical term for this spiel is "Particle Shift". It allows shifting of the particle to go after a noun object, but not after a pronoun object. May 28 '19 at 15:57

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