From a grammar book I've learned that with phrasal verbs there are two possible word orders (except using a pronoun for the object):

  1. I need to fill out this form. / Turn off the TV!
  2. I need to fill this form out. / Turn the TV off!

But I am wondering if these two possibilites are really completely equal in meaning and feeling. Are they?

Furthermore, there are phrasal verbs with objects introduced by prepositions like "to come up with sth". Are the two possibilities still valid for them?

  1. She came up with a good idea.
  2. She came with a good idea up.

The last one doesn't sound right to me. Am I wrong?

  • The full phrase is "come up with". which means to imagine or create something or to arrive at an idea or understanding. With three-part phrases the prepositions do not detach from the verb to act as object complements.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 14:45
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Does your comment mean that "She came with a good idea up" is not valid? Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 8:39
  • That is what I meant. "She came with a good idea up" is ungrammatical. up cannot detach from came in that way because the verb is "to come up with", not "to come up". Let's see what you {came up with}.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 12:42
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo If you would paste your comment as an answer I could vote it up and accept it. Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 12:33

2 Answers 2


In regards to why the last sentence is wrong:

Let's compare two examples that use the word "up":

  • He picked the pencil up (OK)
  • He picked up the pencil (OK)
  • He came up with an idea (OK)
  • He came with an idea up (INCORRECT)

The verb "to come up" seems similar to the verb "to pick up". However, "to come up" does not take a direct object--that's why you must say "to come up with". You cannot say "he came up an idea". "come up" is always followed with a prepositional phrase starting with "with".

It is true that phrasal verbs can have their preposition separated out, but this is only true when the verb is taking a direct object. It does not apply to verbs which introduce prepositional phrases. As another example, you can say "I will come over to your house" but not "I will come to your house over".


Turn off the TV and turn the TV off both are acceptable. Same case with 'take off your shoes' and take your shoes off'.

She came up with good idea is OK, but the second sentence 'she came with good idea up' sounds weird. How to judge is difficult to say but it is a kind sense we develop with reading and listening.

  • Please explain as to why others are wrong?
    – 1010
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 12:55

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