Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

Do you tend to fall down easily?

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Aubrey answer a question about the phrasal verbs “fall down” and “fall over.”

They discuss how to use them in daily English conversation and not confuse yourself with tricky phrasal verbs.

Have You Ever Fallen Down?

Aubrey asks Lindsay if she has fallen down in public.

Lindsay hasn’t fallen down in public but she has witnessed a friend fall down and it was hilarious.

Aubrey has fallen down in front of a lot of people when she was in high school.

She was playing basketball and she had to grab the ball then she tripped and fell.

She was so glad that there weren’t any social media channels around at that time because she felt so embarrassed.

She couldn’t imagine if someone took a video of that moment and posted it online.

Lindsay agrees.

She adds that falling as an adult is different compared to when you were a kid.

When you were younger, you’d fall and that’s okay but if you trip and fall when you are older, it’s kind of embarrassing and silly.

Today’s episode has been inspired by Alexander who sent a question about falling down.

Here is the question:

Your podcast is getting more and more popular in our country. I start every morning by listening to your show while commuting to work. So I wanted to thank you guys for doing such a great job!😊 Maybe you could help out with two phrasal verbs I got stuck with? Just imagine this, I was walking down the street and I tripped over something and fell down. So in this situation do I actually say “I fell down” or “I fell over” or are they both good to go with?

Thanks, Alexander.

This is a very tricky phrasal verb and Lindsay and Aubrey are here to share with you what to use and how to distinguish the right one to use.

Fall Down VS Fall Over

The phrasal verbs “fall down” and “fall over” are often thought of as interchangeable.

Aubrey shares that these two have subtle differences and are used differently.

To answer Alexander’s question, you will use the phrasal verb “fall down” in his example.

In this episode Aubrey and Lindsay will share with you how to not get confused on what phrasal verb to use.

Lindsay mentions that the reason for this being tricky is because if you change the preposition, the meaning will slightly change.

She has recently done an episode with Alex Bricker where they talk about phrasal verbs.

You can check that out. The name of the episode is AEE 1742: Fill It Up! 3 Tricky Phrasal Verbs with Alex Bricker.

Different Meanings of Fall

Lindsay and Aubrey begin by looking at the word “fall” first.

It can be used as either a noun or a verb thus it can have multiple meanings.

Here are a few meanings of the word “fall”:

NOUN

  • “Fall” as a noun means the act of falling or collapsing.

Example: He had a bad fall.

In this meaning, Lindsay often hears this used when talking about the elderly.

  • Another meaning of “fall” as a noun is a thing that falls.

Example: Yesterday we had the first fall of snow.

Lindsay says this is a more formal way of talking about something that falls.

Aubrey agrees with this and says she often hears this being used in poems.

  • “Fall” as a noun can also refer to the season Fall.

Example: I love fall! It’s my favorite season.

Lindsay asks Aubrey if Fall is her favorite season.

Aubrey says it used to be her favorite season when she lived in New York.

Lindsay shares that the Fall season is amazing in Vermont.

VERB

  • “Fall” as a verb means to move downward.

Example: The snow fell all night.

This is the most common meaning of “fall” that comes to mind when you hear the word.

It is often used as a verb.

  • Another meaning of “fall” as a verb means to lose balance and collapse.

Example: It’s so embarrassing to fall in public!

Lindsay shares that this often happens to her because of her faulty cabinets.

She’d open it up and some of her stuff will fall out when she opens the cabinets.

Fall Down VS Fall Over

The meaning of fall changes, even more, when you add a preposition to it.

Aubrey and Lindsay discuss two phrasal verbs mentioned by Alexander in his question.

They give the definition of the phrasal verbs and how to properly use them.

Here they are with examples below:

Fall down – this is the result of tripping or stumbling.

Example:

  • Children often fall down when they first learn to walk.
  • She fell down the stairs.
  • I fell down the mountain.

Lindsay shares that she had a colleague that would go running and often trips over and falls down.

She describes her as very unathletic.

Aubrey thinks that’s a polite way to say someone is clumsy.

Fall over – the difference of this from fall down is that this is not a result of tripping. It is when you are following from a flat surface.

Example:

  • The tree fell over.
  • The display fell over when I bumped it.
  • I fell over when she pushed me.
  • The leaning tower of Pisa looks like it’s going to fall over.

Lindsay points out that it is not always used to describe a person falling over.

We use this phrasal verb for objects. Aubrey then shares that the only instance you can use this phrasal verb for a person is when the person falls because of an outside force and not because you tripped.

Takeaway

There are subtle nuances between many phrasal verbs.

They can be tricky so you have to learn the meanings before using them.

English has a lot of phrasal verbs in daily conversations.

To sound more and more like a native English speaker, you have to do the effort to learn and keep practicing.

We’d love to hear the phrasal verbs you want to use.

Share it with us in the comments below and give us examples too.

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