I subscribe to the SHUUKAN ST, a weekly newspaper for Japanese students of English. It has a variety of articles for students of various levels from beginners to advanced. There is always a section there called “Odds & Ends”. It is written by James Tschudy, writer and translator. He has a knack for explaining many of the more difficult parts of English well. I highly recommend my students to read his column in the ST.
This week he covered burn down, out, up. His explanation there was particularly good so I will put an excerpt of it here for you to read and if you can please pick up a copy of the Feb. 13, 2009 edition to read and share with your students.
“If a building or house was destroyed by fire, you can say that it burned down. It seems that like every time I watch the local news on TV, there’s always a report about some house or apartment building that burned down. The whole building burned down.”
“A fire needs fuel to burn. That fuel can be wood, paper, gasoline, anything that burns. Onece that fuel is gone, the fire burns out. You’ll often heear a reflexive pronoun used, the fire burned itself out. All of the fuel was consumed in the fire.”
“When something other than a building or a house is completely destroyed by fire or heat, the thing burns up. For example,, satellites fall back to Earth and burn up when they reach the atomosphere.”
“So try to remember that structures burn down, things burn up and fires themselves burn out. And here’s one more way that “burn out” is used. Some kinds of work are very stressful. Those jobs put a lot of pressure on the workers. People burn out. Thie same thing happens with overwork. They used up all their energy. He burned out in his job. He quit.
So you see phrasal verbs can be explained well using good examples. Mr. Tschudy does an excellent job of giving examples of how these phrasal verbs are used.
This is a good lesson to teach your students.