Does a demonstrative pronoun have to go between the main verb and its particle when it's an object? Does it follow the same rule as object pronouns do? Which of the following in each pair is correct? I can't really find a rule for this; it's all about the object pronoun placement!

Kate dropped off this.

Kate dropped this off.

I need to pick that up.

I need to pick up that.


As so often with English, context is extremely important.

In many dialects of English, the last pair of examples are interchangeable - though in any given dialect, one may be more natural or common than the other. Which order is more common will depend on what 'that' is, as well, and what the verb is, what the adverb is, and what the demonstrative refers to. Remember that some combinations of verb and adverb amount to a distinct phrasal verb, as well.

That will be true for a lot of choices of verb/phrasal verb, but not all of them. Your first example is one of the exceptions. The second would suggest that Kate had delivered something, a package or whatever. The second could mean that, but could also mean that Kate fell from whatever this refers to. You could usually tell the meaning from context, but there is ambiguity there. Perhaps for that reason, the second is more generally used in my experience (British English).

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  • OMG! You mean I have to listen to and read lots of English to pick up the rule bit by bit. That's not good news for an English learner :-) . So it totally depends on what's common and what's not and it also might be different from a dialect to another, regardless of the meanings of the demonstratives and phrasal verbs. Right? – Yuri Feb 16 '19 at 18:54
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    That is correct. The same is true of most languages, just English has a lot of such potential pitfalls – SamBC Feb 16 '19 at 18:57

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