"I'm sorry, I got held up."

Is "got held up" a phrasal verb, or "got" is a normal verb and only the "held up" part is the phrasal one?

  • It's a get-passive clause. "Held up" is the verbal idiom comprising verb+preposition. You can tell that "get" is not part of the idiom because it can be replaced by "be" in the be-passive equivalent "I was held up". – BillJ Jul 3 '16 at 11:20

I think what the other two answers are trying to say is that hold up is a phrasal verb, but not get held up.

Get + {past participle form of verb, phrasal or not} + X can mean

  • became X (e.g. "I got massaged at the massage parlor") - this definitely has an informal flavor to it.

  • entered a situation where he/she/it became X, typically unwanted or unexpected (e.g. "I got lost after I turned on 3rd street")

  • received the consequence of an action which made him/her/it become X, typically unwanted (e.g. "I got screwed over really good by my boss's lawyer")


The verb in this sentence is "Got" which is the past form of the verb "to get". Being held up in this sentence example is the object.

To get + Place Expression is the form that was being used.

  • It's a get-passive clause. "Held up" is verbal idiom comprising verb+preposition, but it's not the object of "get", rather a catenative complement of "get". – BillJ Jul 3 '16 at 11:22

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