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Phrasal Nouns

A What are phrasal nouns?

Like phrasal verbs, phrasal nouns consist of a verb combined with a particle. The particle may come before or after the verb.

Some such nouns have a corresponding phrasal verb, but some don’t. For example, there is no phrasal verb (not to kill over). The phrasal verb set on exists but it means attack. The verb related to onset is set in: We couldn’t continue playing aft er the rain set in.

If the particle is in first place, then the phrasal noun is never written with a hyphen. If

the particle comes second, then there is sometimes a hyphen between the two parts of

the phrasal noun, particularly if that particle is in or up or if the phrasal noun is relatively

infrequent, e.g. walk-on [small part, with no words, in a play], stand-off.

B When are phrasal nouns used?

Phrasal nouns are used frequently in newspapers and informal conversation.


The stress is on the first syllable in these nouns regardless of whether this is the verb or the particle.

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