Can someone tell me why 'running late' is not a phrasal verb? Running is a verb and late is an adjective, so wouldn't they together make a phrasal verb?

Thank you.

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    A phrasal verb is usually a verb plus a preposition. Eg 'to call off a meeting' = ' to cancel a meeting', 'to put down someone' = 'to insult someone'. Also, in your example 'running late', late is an adverb and can be switched with 'early' (you can't do that sort of thing with phrasal verbs, which are idiomatic (the two parts together mean more together than apart). – Mitch Nov 26 '19 at 20:49
  • Just in case this is the confusion, a verb phrase and a phrasal verb are not the same thing. – Phil Sweet Nov 26 '19 at 21:04
  • @Mitch Erm, by the kind of grammar that you run with, phrasal verbs are by definition verb + adverb combinations, not verb plus preposition ones (meant to explain in the traditional grammar why you can have "call a meeting off" where there is no noun after the adverb). However, the common traditional concensus, not challenged by generativists, is that they also include some verb + adjective combinations, I believe. (Some people like to also call all such 'x' elements in 'verb + x' combinations 'particles' in the hope that this sleight of hand will put everyone off any common sense analysis). – Araucaria - Not here any more. Nov 26 '19 at 22:20
  • @Araucaria Sure, but usually those things that appear in phrasal verbs, on/off/out/in, fall in the small class people call prepositions. If you said adverb, then people would start thinking that 'call quickly' is a phrasal verb and that is obviously absurd. Why confuse people with the terminology? – Mitch Nov 26 '19 at 22:24
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    @Mitch That's the kind of position one has to defend if one denies out is a preposition in she went out. In any case, it's not a case of not confusing 'other people who aren't so enlightened'. It's a case of not deluding oneself, after so much research has now been done, that the common sense analysis and normal speakers' intuitions are wrong. It's a case of accepting that us grammarians were wrong all this time. We got stuffed up because of our study of Latin. In this case, common sense rules. Those words really are prepositions. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Nov 26 '19 at 22:30

This is a very common mistake arising due to a little confusion.

A phrasal verb is a verb that consists of a verb and another element. This other element that follows the main verb is typically a preposition or an adverb. This addition of the other element can also change the meaning of the verb. For example, the word count means to determine the total sum, but the addition of the preposition on makes the phrasal verb count on, which means to rely on something or someone.

But in 'running late,' late is an adjective rather than an adverb or preposition & thus 'running late' is not a phrasal verb.

[Link for more details]

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    I'll note that something may be running hot, cold, smooth(ly), rough, fast, slow, et al. – Hot Licks Nov 26 '19 at 22:00
  • The element 'late' alters the meaning of 'running'. A meeting can be 'running late' into lunch. But no legs are moving. The OP still stands - why is it not a phrasal verb ? – Nigel J Nov 27 '19 at 16:37
  • @NigelJ You can also simply say that the meeting is running, without anything following the word at all, and still "no legs are moving." That there are no legs moving has nothing to do with the verb itself or with the status of running late. – Jason Bassford Dec 1 '19 at 14:02

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