• Falling In Love With Tango: A Lesson in English Phrasal Verbs

    by Muireann Prendergast

    In English, phrasal verbs are idiomatic expressions or commonly used two-word phrases following the rules:

    Verb + preposition


    Verb + adverb

    Some phrasal verbs are transitive which means they require a direct object.

    The thief broke into my house.

    I have to look after my brother.

    The remaining phrasal verbs are intransitive which means they require no direct object.

    Can you please calm down.

    She always loved to dress up.

    In order to learn about phrasal verbs effectively, it is a good idea to start by understanding when and how they are used, rather than just learning a list of them by heart.

    Here is a short piece on Tango to demonstrate the use of phrasal verbs. See if you can spot which ones are transitive and which ones are not.

    It takes at least two words to tango with English phrasal verbs.

    At 4 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon tourists walk through an antique market in downtown Buenos Aires. They chatter amongst themselves but, above this, loud music sounds from a nearby public square. A large group of tourists obscures the view except for flashes of movement as a couple dances the Tango.

    It is easy to be seduced by the spectacle. He (1)puts on a black silk shirt and trousers, with suspenders and a hat. His partner (2) slips on a red dress with asymmetrical hemline, fringes and black fishnet tights. The heels of her shoes are the highest imaginable. Onlookers elbow each other to capture on film the glamour and of two people responding to each other in perfect synchronicity.

    The Tango began in Argentina at the start of the 20th century when immigrants from Europe gathered together in Buenos Aires to (3)look for a new and better life. However, many failed and, unable to (4)live off the land on the Argentine plains, they (5)lived in poverty on the streets of Buenos Aires. The Tango was a child born of this poverty and developed as these immigrants (6)turned to the bars and brothels of the Argentine capital for solace in their loneliness. Since Buenos Aires was a city with a higher male than female population the Tango, when it (7)started out, was danced between men to win over ladies. It is said that men had three dances to prove themselves before the lady in question made her choice, forcing the unlucky suitors to (8)stand aside.

    Argentina’s upper classes (9)turned away from Tango due to its humble origins. However, they were forced to change their attitude when fashionable societies in Paris and New York (10)fell in love with the Tango after it was brought to Europe and The United States by Argentine emigrants. Its international popularity really (11) took off with the emergence of legendary Tango-singer Carlos Gardel, who sold out venues in Europe and even starred in U.S. made Paramount movies.

    Today, as we see on the streets of Buenos Aires, the appeal of the Tango has endured to the present day. Tourists (12)turn up in droves to watch and film dancing couples every day of the week. Indeed, Tango has (13)taken on a new, modern fanbase thanks to the emergence of electronic, beat-based tango music from bands like France-based, Gotan Project and Argentine/Uruguayan combo, Bajofondo Tango Club. Such is the popularity of the Tango that you don’t even have to (14) go to Buenos Aires to see it. You can enjoy it from your own living room thanks to films like Scent of A Woman, Evita and Strictly Ballroom.

    How did you do?

    See the answers below:

    1. Transitive
    2. Transitive
    3. Transitive
    4. Transitive
    5. Transitive
    6. Transitive
    7. Intransitive
    8. Intransitive
    9. Transitive
    10. Transitive
    11. Intransitive
    12. Intransitive
    13. Transitive
    14. Transitive

    Got questions? Email us or ask them in comments below.

    Sign up for our English classes. Inscribéte para nuestros cursos de inglés.

    If you found this lesson helpful, feel free to share it on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *