The first use of the term “phrasal verb” was only in 1925 – if you’d been born 100 years ago, you wouldn’t have to struggle with them when learning English grammar! Of course, phrasal verbs were in use before 1925, but no one had thought about them as a grammatical construction until then. There are new phrasal verbs being created all the time, so the problem isn’t getting smaller.
Phrasal verbs cause problems for students of English – there are so many. A phrasal verb is a verb made up of two or more parts: a verb, a preposition and/or an adverb. The problem is, that the meaning of the phrasal verb is different from the meaning of the verb which is used to create the phrasal verb.
- turn up
- turn: to rotate (e.g. The wheel was turning slowly)
- turn up: increase the volume (e.g. Please turn the sound up on the TV, I can’t hear the film properly)
There are lots of phrasal verbs; well over 3000 in total, of which you need to know about 150 for the B2 exam, and about double that number at the C1 level. This website has a very good list of many, many phrasal verbs. It’s best used as a reference list. To get started with a more manageable list, try English Club or Basic English Speaking.