Author: British Council | Published on 1 October 2022


1. Present examples 

Write the short text on the board. Say: “Nana is a Kenyan girl and this is her morning routine. Quickly read the text.” 

Nana’s daily routine

[insert simple picture of a Kenyan girl] 

My mother wakes me up at 6 o’clock. I get up, wash my face and put on my school uniform. My mother is making breakfast. We turn the radio on and sit down together to eat. I usually have tea and fruit. After breakfast I feed the calf. I have to look after her because her mother died. Then at 7.30 I set off for school. It’s not far, so I walk and meet up with my friends on the way. After school I take my uniform off and help my mother. Then in the evening we have our dinner and relax. 

Ask a few comprehension questions. Examples: What time does she get up? What does she wear to school? What is a calf? Why does Nana have to look after her? Etc. 

Ask: “Is Nana’s routine like yours?” Elicit differences.

Write the words on the board in random order:

look after

sit down

meet up 

set off

get up

take off

turn on

put on 

wake up


6 o’clock


the radio


the calf



Cover ‘Nana’s morning routine’ text. Ask learners to work in pairs to match the verbs with the words.

Show the text, check answers and underline the 9 phrasal verbs.

Say: “Look at the sentences and discuss these questions in your groups.”

Write these questions on the board.

  1. How many words are there in each verb? 
  2. Which verbs have an object, e.g. put on my school uniform? (=wake up, turn on, look after, take off). 
  3. The object is usually in the middle, e.g. wake me up but 1 verb is different, which 1? (=look after)

To help learners, you could:

  • Circle all the objects, e.g. me, my school uniform, the radio, her.

2. Take feedback 

Ask learners to share their feedback on what they have noticed in the example sentences. Some key points which you might want to share with them/write on the board include: 

The use: Phrasal verbs (sometimes called multi-word verbs) are very common in English and we regularly use them in written and spoken English, particularly in informal contexts. There are over 10,000, so don’t try to memorise them. It is better to present examples in context using a written or audio text (e.g. ‘Nana’s daily routine’). It is also difficult to understand their meaning: even if learners know the individual words, e.g. look and after, that does not help them to understand the phrasal verb look after. And although phrasal verbs are taught as ‘grammar’, it is more useful to think of them as vocabulary.  

The form: 

  • Phrasal verbs are made up of a verb, e.g. look and a particle, usually a preposition or an adverb. e.g. after. I have to look after her. 
  • The particle often changes the meaning of the verb. E.g. look after = ‘care for’ not ‘look’ or ‘look for’.  

Separable: With separable phrasal verbs, the verb and particle can be together or apart. Compare: put on my school uniform (together) and take my uniform off (apart). However, separable phrasal verbs must be apart when you use a pronoun e.g. wakes me up. 

Non-separable: Some phrasal verbs cannot be separated, e.g. I have to look after her. Even when there is a pronoun, the verb and particle stay together, e.g. I look after her. 

Some phrasal verbs are non-separable simply because they don't take an object/they are intransitive, e.g. I get up, (we) sit down, I set off, I meet up. 

3. Use the grammar

a) Using the model text: Learners work in pairs to talk about their daily routine. (You could give question prompts to guide them.) Then they write about their own (1st person) or their partner’s (3rd person) routine. 

b) Objects brainstorm: The teacher reads out one of the separable phrasal verbs (turn on, put on, take off, wake up) and gives a time limit, e.g. 5 minutes. Learners work in teams to brainstorm as many objects as possible they can use with the phrasal verb. (E.g. turn on: TV, radio, computer, kettle, light, etc.) The team with the most objects is the winner and scores a point. Repeat with other phrasal verbs. 

c) Don’t say the verb!: Learners work in pairs and take turns to mime and guess the phrasal verbs. Or, they can try to explain the phrasal verb but they must not use the verb or the particle

d) Team race: The teacher writes the verbs on one side of the board and the particles on the other. Learners work in teams. The teacher says a verb, e.g. take. Teams race to write a sentence with a phrasal verb using take, e.g. After school I take off my uniform.



Elicit: How a teacher gets information from learners, e.g. asking questions, prompting.

Random: casual

Informal context: Learning that takes place outside of a structured, formal classroom setting

Particle: A particle is a word that has a grammatical function but does not fit into the main parts of speech

Intransitive: An intransitive verb is a verb that does not require an object to complete the sense

Object: The part of a sentence which is ‘acted upon’ by the subject. For example, in the sentence The boy kicked the ball, ‘the ball’ is the object.