Ironically, these types of sentences with the smallest units are much tougher to learn than the single latin-derived longer words. I do feel that such stumbling blocks are the biggest barriers for me to effectively learn the language. How long before too many "oops you're wrongs" are going to block me from unlocking any skills?
It's just the same as English - how much clearer is it to learn:
- remove vs take off (e.g. clothing)
- commence vs take up (a new hobby)
- understand vs take in (what I'm saying)
- extract vs take out (a tooth)
- confront vs take on (an opponent)?
But, colloquial speech in English tends to favour these phrasal constructions built around a few versatile verbs, and a whole heap of qualifying prepositions. It must be tough for non-native speakers, and is no doubt why they often sound a bit formal or "textbook".
I confirm: phrasal constructions are a nightmare for non-native speakers, at least for me as a French person, because we easily get lost between basic verbs that end up not meaning at all what their basic form originally suggests and postpositions which don't give any hint on the "movement". For example, take off and take out are relatively easy to decipher but take in and take on are totally opaque.
If you think of 'understanding' as 'absorbing or allow information IN' then the 'take in' might be easier to remember. In the case of 'confronting', you might think of 'tackling' in the American football sense as 'jumping ON' an opponent, then the 'take on' might make sense. Not sure this helps.
When I first started learning French is was sooo confusing because the logic of the sentence structures, placement of verbs, nouns and even idiomatic expressions just confused me because it didn't mesh well with my native language English.
However, after awhile, from reading various comments such as yours about not taking translations "word for word" or learning that French is just different, is when I let go of how I would learn in English and from there on out its been a lot less frustrating absorbing in French knowledge
"par" is more versatile than "à travers de" or "au travers de".
- le pain est fait par le boulanger = bread is made by the baker
- ils viennent 2 par 2 = they are coming 2 by 2 / in pairs
- tu peux tomber par la fenêtre = you can fall through the window
- on voit à travers l'écran / au-travers de l'écran = one can see through the screen