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Is a three-word phrasal verb an object of the verb or of the preposition?

For example:

  1. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to keep up on the news while I was away on vacation.

Is the news an object of “keep up” or “on”?

  1. I always look forward to the beginning of a new semester.

Is the beginning an object of “look forward” or “to”?

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If you want to take a look, I have given an answer to a bit similar question here.

But, you cannot use the same understanding as what is on that link:

So, "the news" is an object of "keep up on", not of "on" nor of "keep up". Try omitting some part and try to see if the sentence will still makes sense.

This is not understandable (though the meaning changes; you're a newscaster that was keeping up the news. It's kinda weird though.):

I wasn't able to keep up the news. [without the word "on"]

This is not either (no meaning at all):

I wasn't able to on the news. [without the phrasal verb "keep up"]


The same rule counts when you're looking at the second sentence. The "the beginning" is an object of "look forward to", not of "to" nor of "look forward".

This is not understandable (no meaning at all):

I always look forward the beginning of a new semester. [without the word "to"]

This is not either (no meaning at all):

I always to the beginning of a new semester. [without the phrasal verb "look forward"]


So, as I understand it, three-word phrasal verbs are unlikely to be separated (just like two-word phrasal verbs). Cause if you do that, it's likely that the meaning will entirely change (like in the first sentence), or it will entirely vanish (like in the second one).

Important note: In a complete sentence, the take-away to understand which belongs to which is omitting some "which" and trying to see if the sentence still makes sense without that "which".

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