Oh hi! thanks for reading this question.

I'm an English learner and I just want to know what's the difference between "Write it down" and "Write down it"?.

Can you elaborate?



3 Answers 3


The difference is that the latter is ungrammatical. In a prepositional verb, an unstressed pronoun such as "it" must directly follow the verb. This is explained in Huddleston & Pullum (2005: 144):

One general constraint on the order 'particle + object' is that it is inadmissible if the object has the form of an unstressed personal pronoun (italic mine). For example, we can replace the suitcase by unstressed it in [36ia] but not in [iia]:

a. She took it off
b. * She took off it


Some verbs in English are phrasal verbs, these are formed of a verb and a particle. Usually, the particle can also function as a preposition. Examples of phrasal verbs are "Turn on" and "get off"

Phrasal verbs can be "separable" or "inseparable". When a phrasal verb is separable, and the object of the verb is a pronoun, the pronoun is moved between the verb and preposition. "Turn on" is separable, but "look after" is inseparable.


Turn on the light
Turn it on
Look after the child
Look after her

"Write down" is a separable phrasal verb, so you say

Write down the sentence.
Write it down.

There is no rule for telling if a verb is separable or inseparable. In inseparable verbs the meaning of the preposition is often closer to its usual meaning but this only a rough guide, and doesn't explain every verb.


I think 'write down it' is wrong; we should say ‘write it down’. You can say ‘write the article down’ or ‘write down the article’. When a phrasal verb follows the pronoun, it should not be separable but if it follows a noun it may or not be separable.

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