Identifying the Difficulties behind EFL Learners' Confusion in Comprehending the Meaning of English Phrasal Verbs


  • Lecturer Eman Abdusalam AL-Khalil English Dept. - College of Education for Human Sciences – University of Basra – Iraq



Keywords: English Phrasal Verbs, Difficulties, EFL Learners, Recommendations.


Though English phrasal verbs form an important and integral part of English grammar and vocabulary, they have a negative impact on language learning, hence a problematic issue in the area of ESL/EFL learning and teaching. Their complexity arises from their unusual constructions when the meaning of two or more words together may differ from the meanings of the combined words in isolation. This eventually leads to EFL learners' confusion in understanding the phrasal verbs intended meaning jointly with their particles when listening to, writing and speaking English, due to their idiomatic and polysemous nature, types, constructions, the contextual, stylistic and cultural differences of their uses between the source and target languages.                                                                                     

In this study, the researcher aims to verify EFL Learners' difficulties in understanding the actual meaning of English Phrasal Verbs within a variety of texts and contexts by adopting a descriptive-analytical method from a syntactic-semantic point of view. To establish a theoretical background of the study assumptions, the researcher tends to identify the patterns of phrasal verbs constructions, types, characteristics, and the interpretation of their meanings, literally or non-literally. Then, the researcher also practically addresses and diagnoses the causes of such difficulties in comprehending and interpreting their communicative meanings, as a result of the very different tone or nuance between the SL and TL with examples. Finally, the study concludes with some remarks about the hypotheses of the study providing some recommendations to be implemented while teaching and learning ESL/EFL.                                                                                             




Al-amein, A. A. M. (2013). EFL Learners' Difficulties in Understanding English Phrasal Verbs: A Case Study of El-Managil Secondary Schools and University of Al-Butana, Gezira State, Sudan.

Algazoly, A. A. O. (2021). The Difficulties of Translating English Phrasal Verbs into Arabic that Encountered Sudanese Secondary Students: Arab Journal for Humanities and Social Sciences (electronic journal). ISSN: 2709-5312.

Arif, M. S. & Ibrahim, A. R. (2019). Phrasal Verbs as a Problem for English Learners.

Azmar, C. N. (2019). Analyzing EFL Learners’ Difficulty in Understanding Phrasal Verbs. A Master Thesis- Faculty of Education and Teacher Training.

Cheon, Y. (2006). A Pilot Study in Learning English Phrasal Verbs. [may2nd, 2014]. Accessed on November 14th 2017.

Dhayf, Q. A. (2019). Phrasal Verbs in English and Arabic: A Comparative Study. Babylon University College of Education for Human sciences. Iraq.

De Cock S. (2006) Learners and Phrasal Verbs. Med Magazine,Issue 35Jan-Feb (2006) Learners.htm

Foley, M. & Hall, D. (2005) Advanced Learners Grammar (3rd ed.) London: Longman.

Gandorah, M. S. (2015). Arabic ELLS’ Attitude toward Phrasal Verbs. St. Cloud State University. Culminating Projects in English. 17.

Hameed, J. Q. (2017). Teaching Phrasal Verbs to Enhance Learners' Communicative Competence in English with Reference to Iraqi Advanced Level. Journal Of Basrah Research The Humanities sciences Vol.: 42- No. 6- Yr. 2017.

Jack C. Richards & Richard Schmidt (2002) Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics. 4th ed. London: Longman.

Lea, D. & Bradbery, J. (2004). Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English. 10 th ed. Oxford, England: OUP.

Mansour, A. (2018). The Translation of Some Phrasal Verbs in Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" into Arabic.'s_A_Portrait_of_the_Artist_as_a_Young_Man_into_Arabic

Nadjmeddine, B. (2019). A Descriptive Study about the Use of Phrasal Verbs in EFL Students’ Narrative Writings: The Case of Third Year English Students at Oum El Bouaghi University.

Saleh,Y.M.(2011).Semantic&Syntactic Problems in Comprehending English Phrasal Verbs.

Toom, S. L. (2020). The Use of Phrasal Verbs by Estonian EFL Learners References: A Corpus - Based Study BA Thesis.






west languages

How to Cite

Eman Abdusalam AL-Khalil, L. . (2023). Identifying the Difficulties behind EFL Learners’ Confusion in Comprehending the Meaning of English Phrasal Verbs. Lark, 15(6), 815-798.