Question about verbs with words like down/up/out/in and so on

I often hear and read some composite verbs with words like down/up/out as the second part of the composite word. For instance. We have a simple verb “write” and we have the composite verb “write down”.
So, what is the real difference between those verbs ? for exemple, what is the main difference between “write” and “write down” ?
When I try to translate those two forms with Google Translation tool, it’s give me the same translation in french (ie “écrire).
Once, my english teacher told me (who is british)” verbs with down /up / out and so forth, are more used in americain english"
Is that true ?
Thankyou in advance and till next time.


Enter the word ‘up’ and ‘down’ in the vocabulary section and see what you get. Pick some of the example of phrases of expressions that you are interested in.

Save these kinds of phrases when you see them. Check out the example phrases. Edit them. Tag them as “down/up” and collect them. Then study them. If you pay attention to them you will start to notice when you see them and hear them. I think you will slowly start to use them yourself.

Write down (except in accounting) means to take a note. “Write down what you have to do tomorrow.”

I do not think this is a matter of British and American English.

These composites that you talk about are more common in speech than in writing… in fact they are very,very common in English speech generally. I have never heard that they more used in American English speech.

‘write’ = ‘write down’ for the purposes of general comprehension. However there is a nuance of difference best touched on through examples:

We usually say “write a book/write a letter/write a sentence/write a proposal/write a business plan” .

We usually say “write down your thoughts/write down what I am saying (don’t just try to remember it!)/write down everything you have eaten for a week if you are on a diet”

This indicates that “write down” is more concrete, like you can imagine the pen hitting the paper and sometimes shows that the alternative-- not writing-- is unacceptable.

This is only the start… there are many, many of these verb types… the best way is to try to read, listen, enjoy, and get a feel for it over time.

Interesting. There is definitely a lot of nuance involved with these phrases. For example, I’m in sales and as salespeople we never “write down” sales, we “write up” sales.

You can also “fill out” and application by “filling in” the blanks. You can add these little words to almost any verb and slightly change the meaning of the verb and the intentions. It might be kinda fun for you to practice that.
For example, what’s the differences between “taking out”, “taking in” “taking up”, “taking down”, “taking off” and “taking on” something? ^^

You know, I think those “phrasal verbs” or whatever you call them the most upsetting aspect of learning English.
I don’t thing it is at the same level of difficulty of learning words or even idioms, because some of the phrasal verbs barely make sense, even if you try to be very imaginative to understand how the expression could have be formed…
Also, there is another difficulty involved when you’re trying to reason quickly, as in a conversation, for example. All of a sudden, a word that you have already started to figure out subconstiously, changes its meaning to a quite different one because a preposition was added somewhere. Very confusing…
I don’t know, I’ve been very successfull in increasing my vocabulary during the last months, but when it comes to phrasal verbs, I can’t memorize most of them. I tag all that I find, and I can even memorize them for short periods, but if I open my list of older phrasal verbs I don’t have the slightest clue of the vast majority of them… frustrating!
I know I’m going to deal with this issue someday, but I really don’t know when or how…

When I was growing up, my dad gave me 2 books filled with idioms. eg: to lose one’s mind, to bury the hatchet, to never look a gift horse in the mouth etc, etc… it drove me crazy. I think it took me, studying 10 idioms a day, around 1 year to get through both books. I don’t think it was worth it and my retention of the idioms is either forgotten or at best they can only be identified passively and i can’t actively use most of them.

Another book was filled with group classifiers. Eg: A “classifier” of “a group”. This didn’t make much sense at all. I remember a gaggle of geese, a host of angels, a company of soldiers, a murder of crows… erm… i can’t even remember the rest. In general it’s not widely used in every day speech - however some people do use them or have their favourites.

I posted up something entitled “The crazy and wonderful language of English” which i stole from somewhere. worth a laugh. after reading through that i truly understood that to use a language does not mean you need to be able to explain it or understand it. these two things do not go hand-in-hand (there! i just used another idiom!!!).

Most people can drive a car, but very few people know how a car works. It is useful to know how it works, for instance, when analyzing the underlying engine or the gearbox, but it’s not really necessary or of much help when simply driving the car. I think the same is true with language. I use english as my main everyday language and the text “The crazy and wonderful language of English” blew me away - literally. I had no idea the language was so utterly jumbled.

Ah yes. Speaking of which, here’s something I came across a while back about just how ridiculous the English language can be:

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;
but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;
yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet,
and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
and the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
but though we say mother we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.

Some reasons to be grateful if you grew up speaking English;

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. There is no time like the present, he said it was time to present the present.
  8. At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.
  11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  13. They were too close to the door to close it.
  14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  18. After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
  19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  21. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
  22. I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.


ipanema, that’s cool!

I wonder if I could find something similar for Russian…

А что же делает супруга
Одна, в отсутствии супруга.

Закрыв измученные веки,
Миг отошедший берегу,
О, если бы так стоять вовеки
На этом тихом берегу.

Область рифм — моя стихия,
И легко пишу стихи я;
Без раздумья, без отсрочки,
Я бегу к строке от строчки,
Даже к финским скалам бурым
Обращаюсь с каламбуром.