Pull off

To "pull something off" is to accomplish a difficult task

Today's story: El Chapo
Explore more: Lesson #40
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Pull off

Today’s word is a phrasal verb—“pull off.” Pull off means to accomplish a difficult task. In the original context, you heard that El Chapo escaped twice from prison. Then, as he was awaiting extradition to the United States, he tried to escape a third time, but he couldn’t pull it off. He couldn’t accomplish that difficult or surprising task.

To his credit—or maybe to his discredit—he did pull off two daring escapes from prison before; once in a laundry cart and then through a tunnel. He would not have been able to pull it off alone, so he must have had help from corrupt officials.

Enough crime for now; let’s take a few more positive examples. Do you remember Shohei Ohtani? He’s the Japanese baseball player we talked about last week. He’s trying to become the first player to pitch and hit in America’s Major League Baseball since Babe Ruth almost a century ago. Do you think he can pull it off? If he can pull it off, it would be quite an accomplishment.

You might also remember another recent episode in which we talked about how Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, had agreed to testify before the US Congress after having done a series of unconvincing television interviews. His task was to reassure lawmakers that Facebook takes data privacy seriously. It wasn’t always clear if he’d be able to pull it off since lawmakers were really upset about the loose data protection at Facebook. But in the end, his testimony went very well; he had a tough task, but he was able to pull it off.


A big thank you once again from JR and me for listening to Plain English. Don’t forget you can connect with us on Facebook or Twitter with the user name PlainEnglishPod, or you can email me at jeff [at] plainenglish.com. The next episode will be number 41 and will come out on Thursday. You can make sure you get each and every episode delivered right to your playlist by clicking “follow” in Spotify or “subscribe” in Apple podcasts. See you on Thursday.

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Story: El Chapo