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Are "put it on" and "put them on" phrasal verbs? I noticed that when Americans pronounce "put them on" they don't say "them". They use the weak form of "them" that sounds like "əm" (schwa sound + m).

"Put" and "them" together sounds like [pʊ_dəm] with a flap T (fast /d/ sound as some people say). Is my observation right about the word "them"? If these phrases are phrasal verbs I think the stress is on the particle "on" in both phrase. Am I right?

Any suggestion is appreciated. Thank you!

  • Are you putting me on? It partly depends on your definition of "phrasal verb", but mainly it's a matter of exact context. A lot of "phrasal verbs" with special idiomatically-established meanings can also occur as natural conjunctions of verb+preposition in straightforward constructions. – FumbleFingers Mar 30 '15 at 23:50
  • You're right. You can also observe particle shift: "put on the clothes" / "put the clothes on", though of course that doesn't work when the object is an unstressed personal pronoun (as in your examples). – snailboat Apr 1 '15 at 19:39
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"Put on" is the verb phrase, and "them" is the object. So "put them on" is not a phrasal verb in itself.

"Put it on", "put that on", "put this on", etc. are all valid and common expressions.

I think the phenomenon you are describing is not limited to the verb phrase, but to the sentence as whole - many short and not-so-important words will have sounds cut off, merged, or not pronounced completely/"schwaed". Since "on" significantly changes the meaning of "put" though (when put is used reflexively), it's important and often stressed or said correctly. "On" would be said less clear in most spoken sentences if the meaning was "put it on the table", for example.

FWIW Forms of be and have are vulnerable to this especially since they are often contracted by virtue of often being auxillary verbs.

  • If I understand your answer correctly in general the stress is on "ON" in the phrases Put it on and Put them on. Right? – Zoltan King Mar 30 '15 at 14:53
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Put on is your phrasal verb. Someone puts on something.

For example:

Put on your clothes!

Put on your hat.

will turn into:

Put them on!

Put it on.

when clothes is replaced by a personal pronoun or hat is replaced by the personal pronoun it.

Them or it are not part of the phrasal verb, they are simply the direct object in each sentence. The subject is omitted here, because it is an imperative form of the verb.

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