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Phrasal verbs are usually two-word phrases consisting of verb+adverb or verb+preposition.

Like many other verbs, phrasal verbs often have more than one meaning.

For instance:

  1. Back up means reverse:

    You'll have to back up your car so that I can get out.

  2. Back up means support:

    My wife backed me up over my decision to quit my job.

Can we switch the word order?

  1. You'll have to back your car up so that I can get out.

  2. My wife backed up me over my decision to quit my job.

Is there any hard and fast rule about the usage of phrasal verbs?

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Community Sep 6 '16 at 14:25

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    Note that you can't say My wife backed up me because if the object is an unstressed personal pronoun it has to go between the two words forming the phrasal verb, as pointed out in the top answer to the original question. – FumbleFingers Sep 6 '16 at 14:26
  • Could you explain"unstressed personal pronoun", please? I know what is personal pronoun but in this term "unstressed" is new for me. – user40875 Sep 6 '16 at 14:31
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    stressed = spoken loudly, given heavy emphasis. As in My wife didn't back up her mother. She backed up me! Where the speaker could just as well have said She backed me up!, because when the pronoun is stressed it can go in either position, but when it's unstressed it can only go before the preposition (embedded within the phrasal verb). – FumbleFingers Sep 6 '16 at 14:40