Hanging around

This picture illustrates phrasal verbs or phrases with ‘hang’. We have hang on (wait; not give up), hang onto (keep), hang up (stop a telephone call; put something on a wall, hook or hanger), hang out (spend time with friends; put wet clothes on the line to dry), hang in there (maintain effort), hang about (wait; loiter), hang back (remain behind everyone else), to hang over (unfinished unpleasant thing), to hang together (when a multi-layered project works).

See how some of these are quite abstract and complex to define? And this is just with ‘hang’. I even used another phrasal verb (give up) to define one of them! This is the English phrasal verb: the words taken literally on their own mean something else, or maybe nothing much (there are loads with ‘get’). Put them together in a particular context and some magic happens. They’re completely natural for us native speakers to understand the sense of them (it’s a lot to do with the preposition part and all the spatial and temporal associations we have with these). Absolute nightmare for people learning English as a foreign language.

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