Phrasal verbs are common in English. What do other languages (natural or conlang) do to avoid this feature? That is, how can they say the same things without having this feature?

  • From a broader linguistic point of view, phrasal verbs are the exception and their absence is the norm. So other languages don't "avoid" them, it is more natural to ask, how do speakers of Germanic languages can cope with such beasts.
    – Sir Cornflakes
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 12:02
  • I can't understand the purpose of this line of inquiry. If for example a conlang contains the morphological equivalent of aufstellen, and you want it to work like "ich aufstelle etwas" rather than "ich stelle etwas auf", why not just... say that that's how it works? How is there any question about "avoiding" separable verbs, you just... don't separate them. Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


Well, a phrasal verb is a way of conveying some sort of verbal meaning. So instead of using a phrasal verb, you can just use a verb. Instead of "pick up", you can have a verb "take"; instead of "back down", you can have a verb "retreat". And so on.

Some languages, like Latin, have a set of affixes that you can attach to verbs to derive new ones, and this is how they make all the verbs they need to express various meanings. Other languages just have a lot of verbs in their lexicons.

  • Seems to me that verbs like re-treat and pro-ceed and per-ceive, which we know mainly from Latin but are common everywhere in IE, differ from English phrasal verbs only in their inseparability, and German verbs show the softness of the contrast, if I understand right: the particles of German phrasal verbs become prefixes in non-finite forms. So if I were OP I'd be looking for non-IE answers. Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 17:54

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