Phrasal Verbs

A phrasal verb is a verb followed by an adverb or preposition, creating an idiomatic phrase. That is, a phrase whose meaning can not be deduced from the individual words that make up the phrase. This sounds high-concept but becomes immediately clear from examples.

In none of these examples does the meaning have to do with the literal meaning of put: to move or place sth into a specific location or position.

Sometimes phrasal verbs consist of more than two elements.

A student of English would have to learn and memorise a phrasal verb as if it were its own word, whole and separate from the verb and adverb that make up its parts. Knowing that to put means to place into a specific location, that up is a direction and that with means alongside is no help when you are confronted with to put up with something.

Icelandic is no different. A student of Icelandic must learn and memorise phrasal verbs as if they were one word, unrelated to their component words.

Following is a list of the ten most common verbs in the language, as well as some phrases that can be formed from each. This is not meant as a vocabulary building exercise or a dictionary: rather, this list can be thought of as reference material or a primer to get to grips with how phrasal verbs work.

Standard dictionary notation is employed in this list to indicate case. The Icelandic word eitthvað is equivalent to the English something and it is abbreviated e-ð in the nominative and accusative cases. The dative case, einhverju, is e-u, and the genitive einhvers is e-s.

1)  Að vera> to be. (h2)



Aðvera eftir> to be left.

·     Það erunokkrir bjórar eftir! > There are a few beers left!


Að verafyrir (e-u) > to be in the way (of something).

·     Farðufrá, ekki vera fyrir mér! > Move, don‘t get in my way!

·     Þú ertfyrir! >You‘re in the way!


Aðvera saman >to be going steady, to be a couple.

·     Vissirðuað Jón og Gunna eru saman? > Did you know that Jón and Gunna are a couple?


Aðvera til> to exist.

·     Einhyrningareru ekki til> Unicorns don‘t exist.


Aðvera til(búinn)* > To be ready.

·      Við erum að fara. Ertu tilbúin? > We’re leaving. Are you ready?

·      Við erum að fara. Ertu til? > We’re leaving. Are you ready?


Aðvera til (í e-ð)> To be up for something, to be game (for sth)

·     Viðætlum að hafa borðspilakvöld. Ertu til? > We‘re gonna have a board gamenight. Are you game?

·     Ertutil íborðspilakvöld? >Are you game for a board game night?


Aðvera úr e-u> To be made from something.

·     Borðiðer úr tré >The table is made from wood.


Aðvera á e-u> To be on sth (a drug)

·     Hanner á sveppum og emma> He‘s on mushrooms and Molly.

·      Hún er á Ativan > She‘s on Ativan.


Aðvera við> to be present.

·     Halló,er Gísli við? >Hello, is Gísli there?


Aðvera að (e-u)> To be wrong

·     Hvaðer að? > What‘swrong?

·      Það er eitthvað sjónvarpinu > There‘ssomething wrong with the TV.


*Not technically a phrasal verb, justa shortened form of tilbúinn, but it would invite confusion not tomention this.

1)   Að vera, að vera að gera e-ð. To be, to be doing sth.

2)   Að hafa e-ð, að hafa gert e-ð. To have sth, to have done sth.

3)   Að verða e-ð, að verða að gera e-ð. To become sth, will be sth, to have to do sth.

4)   Að koma. To come.

5)    Að segja (e-m) e-ð. To say sth (to sb), to tell sb (sth).

6)    Að fara. To go.

7)   Að geta e-ð. To be able to do sth.

8)   Að gera (e-m) e-ð. To do sth (to sb), to make sth.

 9)   Að taka (e-ð). To take (sth).

10) Að eiga e-ð, að eiga að gera e-ð. To own sth, to be supposed to.


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