She put all the flowers together in one big bunch.

Is "put together" a phrasal verb in this sentence? Or is "together" an adverb?

  • 2
    A close call. Adverb for how she put them all in one. Phrasal would have her assembling the flowers for the sake of her arrangement. Commented Jan 18 at 20:40
  • 1
    @YosefBaskin How about in "He put the crib together"?
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 18 at 21:46
  • 1
    @YosefBaskin That's what I thought, I already put it in an answer.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 18 at 22:16
  • 1
    This is difficult because 'put' is a verb with odd argumentation, needing more than a subject and direct object. But one doesn't think of there being a multi-word verb in 'She put the bowl on the table' or She put the bowl down / She put down the bowl' (compare 'He picked up the bowl'). Perhaps surprising, as 'put down' = 'deposit'. I'd say this is a grey area. CGEL probably thinks of 'down' as a preposition here, just to add to the debate. Commented Jan 18 at 23:58
  • 3
    'Definitive' in the 'considered by many but by no means all [to have the best analyses on all topics]' sense. With 'definitive', it's almost as if inerrancy is being claimed ... so no further grammatical analysis should be undertaken, no assumptions challenged. Commented Jan 19 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


I think "put together" can be a phrasal verb, but not in the example you gave. An example of the phrasal form would be

He put together the crib.

which can be shifted to

He put the crib together.

In this case, "put together" means to assemble something.

In your example, "together in a bunch" acts as an adverbial phrase that describes how she put the flowers. It can be replaced with other phrases, such as:

She put the all the flowers haphazardly on the table.

  • I agree that there are different levels of cohesiveness: 'put together N or put N together' = 'assemble N' AND 'put the Ns together or put together all the Ns' = 'put all the Ns into a close-knit pile/bunch/room/category ...'. I do regard compounds like 'ink well' or MWVs like 'sell out' as single lexemes. Commented Feb 18 at 15:31
  • @EdwinAshworth I agree that "inkwell" is a compound noun, also "ashtray" etc. "Sell-out" is a compound noun in, for e.g. "The concert was a sell-out". But in, for e.g., "The concert was "sold out", "sold out" is not a 'multi-word verb'; rather, sold" is a prepositional verb with the PP "out" as complement. In that example, "sold out" is a constituent, but it's not a constituent at word level; it's just "sold" that is a verb.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 18 at 18:37
  • Try phrasal lexeme. Sold and sold out do not have the same meaning.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 18 at 19:44
  • @BillJ But inkwell, ink-well and ink well [not the verb + adverb incarnation] are interchangeable. Spelling variants. Commented Feb 18 at 22:57
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth I can't remember if you have a copy of CGEL. If you have, there's an excellent section on compounds in Ch19.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 19 at 13:59

[1] She put all the flowers together in one big bunch.

I very much dislike the term 'phrasal verb' since it implies that the verb and its complement form a single lexeme at word level, which is not the case.

Much better is the term 'prepositional verb', in that the verb selects a particular preposition for a certain meaning.

In your example, "put" selects the preposition "together" for the sense of "assemble", or "combine".

Note also that "together" is a 'particle' in that it can occur after the direct object, as in [1], or between the verb and its direct object, as in [2].

[2] She put together all the flowers in one big bunch.

  • 1
    Some theories call them phrasal lexemes, and there is even research on how they are perceived in the brain.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 18 at 17:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.