Because of high productivity of lexical category in English, phrasal verbs are more difficult to master. Since most of them are noncompositional or idiomatic, their meanings are different according to semantic categories. This paper aims to determine what the systematicity of meaning in phrasal verbs becomes easier to perceive when they are not treated monolithically. The instrument consisted of 30 short dialogues with three types of phrasal verbs (literal, aspectual and idiomatic), in which the verb components were left blank, containing a phrasal verb, an equivalent one word verb, and two distracters, of which one was a phrasal verb with the same semantic category. The participants (45 low-, 45 intermediate-, and 45 advanced- level ESL students from Korea and 15 natives) were asked to fill out a background questionnaire, which was composed of questions regarding personal information. This paper has yielded two key findings as follows: First, the Korean speakers of English perceived the phrasal verbs significantly worse than American speakers, which suggests that differences between L1 and L2 cause the inherent semantic difficulty of phrasal verbs; Second, the three groups` means in the three type use were significantly different from one another, which suggests Korean students have a significant learning challenge in the development framework. That is, although there is some semantic systematicity in learning phrasal verbs, many idiomatic phrasal verbs lead to difficulty for ESL students. Pedagogical implications and suggestions for further study are also discussed.