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Phrasal verbs are divided into transitive and intransitive



Phrasal verbs are divided into transitive and intransitive, like all verbs and they can be separable or inseparable. Intransitive phrasal verbs don't take objects and they are inseparable. Transitive verbs take objects and can be separable or inseparable. 

BACK UP means to:

1. give support to someone by telling other people that you agree with them.

"If I ask for more money will you back me up?"

When you support somebody in a conflict, you back them up. By backing somebody up you give moral or psychological support, aid, or courage to them.

"Don't worry. I will back you up when you need me." 

2. say that someone is telling the truth.

"Will you back me up if I say that I never saw him?"

When you make a statement and then show people evidence proving it's true, establishing it as valid or genuine, you back it up.

"The IRS asked me for some receipts to back up my deductions."

3. be someone's substitute; be in reserve.

"We've got three other drivers to back him up."

4. make a backup (a copy of a file or other item of data) in case the original is lost or damaged. You'd better back up your files.

"We back up our files on a disk every day."

NOTE: the direct object of a separable verb can be put either between the verb and the particle, or after the verb. However, when it is a pronoun (me, you, him, etc), it goes in the middle: 'Will you back me up?' (NOT 'back up me').

"All the evidence backs up her story/backs her story up/backs it up."

5. cause to accumulate or undergo accumulation; become or cause to become obstructed. Typically said of vehicles and running water. 

"Some dead branches and leaves can back the sewer up."

If a toilet, sink, or drain backs up, or if it is backed up, water cannot flow through it because something is blocking it.

"The water pipe is backed up again." 

If traffic backs up, or if it is backed up, the vehicles are in a long line and waiting to continue moving.

"The accident backed the traffic up for blocks."

If a system backs up, or it is backed up, it has slowed down or stopped working because there is too much of something for it to deal with.

"Orders are really backed up this month."

6. walk backward or drive a vehicle in reverse. You should use both side and rear mirrors when you back up your car.

"Will you back your car up a little?" 

7. refuse to go through with something; to back out (of something). 

"Fred backed up at the last minute, leaving me to do the job alone."

Unfortunately, you can't just take a look at a random phrasal verb and know what type it is. Each one should be learned in context. Look it up in a dictionary and then come up with your own sentences for situations you can relate to.

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