A definition of a phrasal verb slip through, is "to fail to be noticed, resulting in problems", and the definition of a verb slip is "to go somewhere or put something somewhere quickly, often so that you are not noticed".

Here goes a sentence:

"He slipped quickly through the door, though not quickly enough to prevent himself from being caught by a guard."

The question is: Is the second part of the sentence necessary/mandatory to make it clear that the verb is a phrasal one and not a verb with a preposition? Since he failed to slip through the door quickly, he was caught.

Omitting everything that is after the comma, can we use a verb "pass" to mean to go through the door?

He passed through the door.

  • 1
    He slipped quickly through the door isn't an example of a "phrasal verb" - it's just a literal use of the verb to slip associated with a preposition-based adverbial element. Which could have included another preposition as well or instead: He slipped out [through] the door. That's not the same as the phrasal verb usage which involves slipping through a metaphorical "net" of verification systems - either undetected, or falsely assumed to have valid credentials. Mar 7, 2023 at 0:11

1 Answer 1


But it is a verb with a preposition, or at least it can be understood that way.

The phrasal verb is used about problems or issues: "It is easy for problems to slip through because nobody is responsible for checking." Your example though is just verb "slipped" and a prepostional phrase "through the door"

The distinction is that phrasal verbs are idioms, with a meaning that can't be guessed from the meanings of the individual words, and often with the preposition disconnected from any obvious object, no prepositional phrase is formed.

"Pass through the door" is also correct, but different meaning, it doesn't have the sense "quickly and trying not to be noticed"

  • To slip through as a phrasal verb usage always involves (explicit or implicit) reference to a metaphorical "fishing net" or similar, which would normally be expected to trap or deny entry to the subject. OP's "door" doesn't fit that category, so it's just a literal usage. Mar 7, 2023 at 12:21

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