To have your work cut out for you

If you have a lot of work to do, you have your "work cut out for you"

Today's story: Clothing rentals
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To have your work cut out for you

Here’s an interesting English expression. If someone tells you, “You have your work cut out for you,” that person is telling you that you have a lot of work to do. It’s usually a little bit of an admonition. Like, you’re in a little bit of trouble and you’ve got to work hard to get out of this little bit of trouble.

Just a couple minutes ago, you heard that one of the reservations people have about using clothing rental services is this idea that someone else wore it first. It just seems…not unclean exactly, but kind of personal. You’re putting a shirt on and thinking that someone else had been wearing it and…well whatever. That’s an objection that the industry will have to overcome. And I think it is a pretty strong objection. We’re not really used to sharing clothing a whole lot. So there is a cultural bias against it right away. These companies have their work cut out for them to overcome these objections. They have a lot of work ahead of them.

I’m was watching a baseball game as I wrote this episode, and the Yankees were leading the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 already in the just the third inning. There are usually nine innings in a baseball game. So the Orioles had their work cut out for them: they had to stop the Yankees from scoring more runs, and they had to score at least five of their own. It’s not easy to come back from a five-run deficit in baseball, so the Orioles certainly had their work cut out for them.

This is the sort of thing parents say to kids. If you choose not to study for exams and it’s coming up in just a couple days, Mom or Dad might say, “You’re not really prepared for this test and it’s coming up in just a couple of days. You’ve really got your work cut out for you.” That means you’ve got a lot of work to do, and you’d better get going.

You remember a few weeks ago I said there were twenty-something Democrats who all want to go up against Donald Trump? I even joked that a few more might jump in the race in between the time I recorded the episode and when it came out. And you know what, someone did! The mayor of New York is now running. New York is a great place; I once lived there myself. But it’s not like anywhere else in America. By and large, the people outside New York want something very different from their government than the people in New York. So the mayor there has his work cut out for him if he’s going to convince people in smaller towns to support him for president. He’s going to have a lot of work to do.

Quote of the week

It’s Monday, so time for a quote of the week. Today’s episode was about an innovative business idea, and I saw this quote the other day that I think you’ll like. Here it is, “You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.” Gordon Hinckley, a religious leader, former leader of the Mormon church, said that. It’s kind of a play on words. When you turn something over in your mind, you think about it over and over. When you plow a field, though, you need to actually turn over the soil in the field. The reason I like this quote is that if you just sit and think about something too much, you’re not really accomplishing anything. You have to get out and get your hands dirty and do something. So yes, think things through. But turning something over in your mind is not the same as getting out there and plowing a field, or taking some real action.


You know, this is funny, as I was writing this, I was watching a baseball game, but a commercial came on for a tuxedo rental company. The characters on the commercial were wearing big ugly cardboard boxes. And the voice-over said, Don’t rent a boxy suit. They want to send you a rental tuxedo by mail that fits you well based on your real measurements. So you heard it here first: clothing rental is a now a thing.

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you did, then you’d love being part of our e-mail community. You’ll get extra English study resources delivered right to your email, straight from JR and me, every Monday and Thursday, and sometimes Saturdays. Some great resources there, and it’s all free, and all for you at PlainEnglish.com/mail . JR and I will be back again on Thursday. Thanks again for joining us and for being such an important part of what we do here. See you then.

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Story: Clothing rentals