There are many verbs that have different meanings when we add a preposition to them, whish are the phrasal verbs -according to what I understand- , but sometimes I can't feel the difference , like : end up , help out, miss out

Is there really a difference that I can't see ? or they're almost the same without the preposition ?

  • There absolutely is a difference (as any good dictionary should be able to tell you), but listing all examples or coming up (<- see?) with a rule is too broad. – Stephie Aug 11 '17 at 21:09
  • @Stephie i see , I'll look for them in a dictionary, thank you – Abeer Aug 11 '17 at 21:12
  • Just a tiny example what I mean: Take the verb make, compare it with the phrasal verb make up and you'll immediately see why you need to learn them individually. Once you start to master phrasal verbs, you have made good progress in really learning the English language. – Stephie Aug 11 '17 at 21:19
  • ...similarly make out. – Weather Vane Aug 11 '17 at 21:29

Only using your examples and keeping the definitions very narrow because @Stephie is completely right:

To end means to finish or complete something.

To end up means to to become something.


"I want this to end." means the speaker wants whatever action is occuring to stop.

"I want to end up like Michael Jordan." Means I want to become something (a skilled sportsman, or famous, or wealthly) like Michael Jordan already is.

To help means to give assistance or to join with others to complete a task.

To help out is, for all intent and purpose, identical to to help.

To miss means to fail to achieve a goal or expectation, or to fail to arrive at an expected destination.

To miss out means to lose (miss) an opportunity.

How a phrasal verb relates to the original verb has more to do with the culture that caused its creation than any rule. My favorite comes from the 1970's.

A freak is someone or something unusual or abnormal.

To freak is to act unusually or abnormally... except...

To freak out is to suddenly act abnormally or wildly.

The exception I noted is that it's become common in spoken English to use the verb to freak as a short form of to freak out. Because it's uncommon for a phrasal verb to be used before it's parent verb, this is likely an example of an original verb falling into disuse, then being picked up again for another purpose.

Living languages... you've gotta love them.

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