Grammar Guru: _______ verbs

Ok, this guy’s knocked out some teeth here:

Danny Granger, American professional basketball player for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, famously knocked out his two front teeth in a victorious game against the Boston Celtics on 1 November 2008. You can say both of these:

  • He knocked out two teeth.
  • He knocked two teeth out.

But you can only say one of these:

  • He knocked out them.
  • He knocked them out.

Compare: “knock out” is a phrasal verb like:
put away (aufräumen), bring up (=mention), try out, give up, call up, rip off (=steal), think over, boss around (herumkomandieren), make up (=invent)
They all use the structure of “knock it out.”
There are lots of lists and exercises here. Try them out!

Contrast regular two part verbs:
fall for, bump into, get over, look at, go up, fall down…
Look at them!

Knock ‘em out

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Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

3 thoughts on “Grammar Guru: _______ verbs”

  1. He knocked out two teeth.
    He knocked two teeth out.
    He knocked them out.
    He knocked out them.

    “Knock out” is a phrasal verb.
    This is the pattern:
    (not put away it)
    put it away – put away the toys & put the toys away
    bring it up – bring up a problem & bring a problem up
    try it out – try out a new way & try a new way out
    give it up – give up smoking & give smoking up
    call him up – call up a friend & call a friend up
    rip her off – rip off a client & rip a client off
    think it over – think over a suggestion & think a suggestion over
    boss them around – boss your husband around & boss around your husband
    make it up – make up a good story & make a good story up

    Contrast regular verbs:
    (not fall it for)
    fall for it – fall for a story (drauf reinfallen)
    bump into it – bump into a friend (begegnen)
    get over it – get over a loss (überstehen)
    look at it – look at pictures (anschauen)
    go up it – go up a hill (hochgehen)
    fall down it – fall down the stairs (runterfallen)

  2. Dear Anne,

    I hope that you are fine and healthy. Thank you very much for your
    beautiful comments in my blog.

    I think after seeing the picture of that player no one will have
    the ability or the desire to say anything…..hehe

    all the best for my lovely sister.


  3. Interesting: Asking the question like this was almost too easy!

    * He knocked them out. (89%, 8 votes)
    * He knocked out them. (11%, 1 vote)

    Phrasal verbs are considered difficult. But they’re not really. In class I like to have them on cards and play with them, e.g. find a matching partner that means almost the same thing.

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