Turn to

When you “turn to” someone or something, you look to that person or that thing for answers.

Today's story: Tab soda is retired
Explore more: Lesson #334
Keywords:

Be your best self in English

Move confidently through the English-speaking world

Listen

  • Learning speed
  • Full speed

Learn

TranscriptQuizYour turn
Simple TranscriptEspañol中文FrançaisPortuguês日本語ItalianoDeutschTürkçePolski

Turn to

Today we’re going to talk about the phrasal verb “turn to.” When you “turn to” someone or something, you look to that person or that thing for answers. Earlier on today’s lesson, you heard that Coca-Cola needed a name for its first-ever diet soda. It had to be just three or four letters and not offensive when translated into any language.

Coke had a problem and they needed answers. What or who did they turn to for answers? An IBM computer. They turned to a computer to invent the name of a consumer product. They could have turned to a fancy Madison Avenue advertising or publicity agency. Have you seen the TV show Mad Men? Coca Cola could have turned to the Sterling Cooper ad agency. Instead, Coca-Cola turned to IBM and came up with the decidedly boring “Tab.” Don Draper would not approve.

A year ago, American Democrats were in the process of selecting their candidate for president. Who would be the man or woman to run against Donald Trump? Who did they look to for answer? Would Democrats turn to a woman, a more moderating influence? Would they turn to a more radical option like the socialist senator Bernie Sanders? In the end, they turned to an experienced, stable, moderate, deal-making veteran of politics, Joe Biden. And now more than ever, their decision seems to have been validated.

It was a disappointing year for my hometown football team, the Chicago Bears. The quarterback is the most important player on a football team, and they will be parting ways with their quarterback from this year. They will need to find someone else to play that most important position. Who will they turn to? Who will they look to for answers? We still don’t know; it’s early. They might turn to an experienced veteran with an expensive contract. Or they might turn to a promising younger player.

It’s sometimes common to say a person “turns to” drugs or alcohol as an answer to their problems. The musician Lily Allen recently gave an interview in which she talked about a difficult time while she was touring with Miley Cyrus. She had just had children and felt like she was overweight and didn’t have the physical look expected of a touring musician. So, she said, she turned to drugs and alcohol to relieve the stress of the tour and the anxiety she felt over her body. She turned to drugs and alcohol; she looked to drugs and alcohol to relieve her stress and anxiety.

Sometimes you would say that kids with trouble at home might turn to drugs, gangs, or other bad influences.

But you can use “turn to” to describe a good and reliable friend that can help you in tough times. If you’re having trouble in a relationship, you might turn to a therapist or a close friend for support. If you’re experiencing difficulty at work, you might turn to a mentor or trusted advisor to help you through it. These are people you look to for support, help, and answers.

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote of the week is by the author Lisa See. She says, “Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.” So many of you ask how to improve your speaking skills. You do definitely have to practice speaking and producing. But the reading is time to reinforce the meanings of words, to see them in different contexts, to have the confidence to use them. So keep this quote in mind: “Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river,” by the author Lisa See.

See you next time!

And that is all today. I hope you enjoyed today’s audio lesson. We have a good video to accompany this article, too. We talk about how to introduce doubt in your voice when you’re talking about events in the present or future. You can use that same device to introduce surprise that something happened in the past. These video lessons are all about how to elevate your speech so you can express more complex ideas naturally, and this video is a great example of that. So check that out if you’re a Plus+ member. If you’re not yet a Plus+ member, you can find all the joining details at PlainEnglish.com/Plus.

Our next lesson is going to be on Thursday. This will be another light-hearted episode. It’s all about left-handedness, and how hard it is to be a lefty in a righty’s world. Remember to join us for that one, coming up right here on Thursday. See you then!

Learn more expressions like this

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

Test your knowledge

Take a 4-question quiz to make sure you understand today’s Expression

Plus+ feature

Write a sentence with this Expression

Get personal, human feedback on the examples that you write. Build the confidence to use this Expression in the real world

Story: Tab soda is retired