I'd like to ask if "to put something down" in sense 1 is accepted as a phrasal verb. Because the preposition down does not add any special meaning, it only shows where the motion toward..

1.[transitive] to put someone or something onto a surface, especially the floor

Emma put her bag down and went upstairs.


Another example could be:

Stretch your arm straight up toward the ceiling.

  • 2
    What are you calling a phrasal verb and why does it matter? Put is a very versatile verb, and just for to put down alone the OED attests 19 separate senses
    – tchrist
    Oct 18, 2015 at 2:06
  • Emma (subject) put (action) her bag (object) down (adverb) and went upstairs. Other definitions in the linked page are phrasal, but I don't see any reason for item 1 to be one.
    – user3169
    Oct 18, 2015 at 2:51
  • I agree. Alas, no dictionary is perfect. Then again, "phrasal verb" can be tricky to define, and dictionaries seem to use this term differently, and many also include what could be considered non-phrasal-verbs as phrasal verbs or as standalone entries without any labels (e.g. "come out", "hurry up", "take away", "take apart", or even "stand up" and "sit down"). Oct 18, 2015 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


It isn't necessarily required, but it does not have to be removed. It definitely does add meaning to the sentence.

You could put your bag on a table, in which case it would not necessarily be down. You could also put it into an overhead rack, in which case it would usually be up.

Similarly you can stretch your arms straight out, backwards, down, or just generally stretch them where they are.

It is possible to remove the preposition if you do not require the extra detail, but it is not necessary to do so: generally a reader would expect this kind of detail to give full context to what's happening. There is also the question of whether the sentence does need that context.

For example stretching requires no context: unless stretching their arms up is important for a specific exercise

Stretch your arms fully.

However without "down" then Emma's bag loses context. We can't say this:

Emma put her bag and went upstairs

Because you can't just "put" a bag. You have to "put" it somewhere. We'd have to replace "down" with something else, which would usually actually add un-necessary detail

Emma put her bag on the table and went upstairs.

Now we've brought the table into the sentence for no real reason. "Down" is a nice generic term that states Emma relieved herself of possession of the bag before continuing with the next activity.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .