The workers were tearing up the street.It's ambiguous, because you don't know whether it means something like:
"The workers were using jack hammers to tear the street apart."
with the transitive phrasal verb tear up plus D.O. the street
or something like "The workers were running up the street as fast as they could."
with the intransitive verb run plus adverbial PP up the street .
Here are some tests for distinguishing between transitive phrasal verb + D.O. and intransitive verb + ADV PP.
The workers were tearing the street up.
The workers were tearing it up.A preposition, by contrast, will stay in its place:
The workers were tearing up it.
This can only mean that the workers were running up the street (with adv. pp).
Up the street the workers were tearing.can only mean this:
and not this:
The workers filled in the ditch.
BUT *In the ditch the workers filled.
As the diagram shows, fill in , the verb plus particle, belongs in the Verb Phrase slot, and that's a single constituent.
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