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He switched on a table lamp to banish the gloom of a winter afternoon.

  1. Is ‘switched on’ a prepositional verb?
  2. Is ‘To banish the gloom’ an infinitive phrase functioning as adverb, modifying the verb.
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Yes, "switched on" is a phrasal verb meaning "activated". This type of phrasal verb is also known as a prepositional verb, because it includes a preposition.

Yes, the infinitive phrase "to banish the gloom" provides the reason he performed the action.

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  • How to differentiate if it is phrasal verb or prepositional verb?
    – Opel
    Jan 5 '19 at 3:12
  • @Opel I have edited the answer to clarify.
    – Tashus
    Jan 5 '19 at 4:10
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He switched on a table lamp to banish the gloom of a winter afternoon.

Switch on NP (or switch NP on) is a verbal idiom. I would avoid the term 'phrasal verb' though; it's a misnomer and thoroughly misleading. It's not the whole expression "switch on" that is a verb, but just the word "switch".

Note that "on" is called a particle here since it can occur between the verb and its direct object, or follow the object: "He switched a table lamp on ...".

"To banish the gloom" is an infinitival clause functioning as a purpose adjunct in clause structure, where it modifies the verb phrase.

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