Work something out

Lesson #
January 27, 2020

To “work something out” means to resolve a tricky problem or situation.


Transcript

Simple TranscriptEspañol中文FrançaisPortuguês日本語ItalianoDeutschTürkçePolski

Work something out

We have a phrasal verb to start your week off. That phrasal verb is to work something out. That means to resolve a tricky problem or a situation; often, it means to resolve a difficult problem between two people. What happened in the UK after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released their bombshell Instagram announcement? Meghan Markle went back to Canada and left Prince Harry back in the UK to work things out with the Queen and the rest of the royals.

Often, we say “to work things out” when we’re talking about people who have a conflict or a difference of opinion that they must resolve. I just saw a good movie, a sad movie, on Netflix called The Marriage Story. In that movie, the couple had a lot of conflict in their marriage—conflict about where they were going to live, whose career to prioritize, things like that. And they were not able to work things out, and they eventually divorced. They were not able to resolve the difficult conflict between them, so we say they could not work things out.

You might say that you and your roommate had a huge fight and you were thinking about going separate ways. But after a couple of days, you realize that you can resolve your difference if you try. And you might resolve to work things out. You might decide that you’ll try to solve the problems—stay out of each other’s way, not leave dirty dishes in the sink, divide household chores, not make noise late at night, not smoke inside, whatever. Whatever caused your problems—you think you can find a solution. You think you can work things out.

This is a common way of using “work something out,” just to say in general, “to work things out.”

You can also specify what that thing is. We’re going to work out our differences, you might say. If two people are collaborating on a creative project and have two different visions of how the project will go, they might need to work out their creative differences. In order to continue, they need to have the same vision, so they have to work out their creative differences.

We need to work out our problems, you might say. You could say that in a romantic relationship, or other kinds of relationships. Two neighbors, say. I have great neighbors in my current building, so this doesn’t apply. But when I lived in New York, I lived on the top floor and the guy who lived below me kept accusing me of moving furniture every weekend. Let me tell you: the last thing I wanted to do then—or now—is move furniture. I never move my furniture unless it’s necessary.

What he thought was moving furniture was really just me walking at a normal pace from room to room. So when he heard me walking, he would take a broomstick or something and smack his ceiling with it. And he complained over and over to the management company about me. He said I was jumping up and down and he thought that his ceiling was in danger of collapse. Finally, the building managers told us that we had to work out our problems between the two of us. We had to work out our conflict, our differences of opinion.

I offered to take pictures of my furniture once a week and send it to them as proof I wasn’t moving furniture! But the building managers didn’t want any part of that. They just told me to work it out with my neighbor.

And that’s another way you can use “work out,” just say “work it out.” That means, solve the problem. Sometimes, if I’m on a team at work and two people who are on the team don’t know who’s going to do what. I tell them, look, we need to get X, Y, and Z done. They ask me, but who’s going to do what? I’ll say, I don’t know. You guys work it out. You two solve the problem. You can divide up the work. You can do it all together. I don’t really care—you guys work it out. You two decide together.

Quote of the week

Here’s a quote of the week. I was inspired by a listener, Lívia, who wrote to say that she’s taking in-person English classes to get over her embarrassment speaking English. So I’m choosing the quote for you, Lívia, and for everyone in the audience that has problems with confidence in English. Here we go: “Confidence is a habit that can be developed by acting as if you already had the confidence you desire to have.” And that is by the author and motivational speaker Brian Tracy.

So how about this. If you don’t have the confidence you need when speaking English, then just go out there pretend like you do. Pretend like you’re your future self—three, five years from now. Pretend that you have all the confidence you need. How would you act? Just fake it. Just pretend like you’re the person with all the confidence.

Here’s the quote again from Brian Tracy: “Confidence is a habit that can be developed by acting as if you already had the confidence you desire to have.”


And that’s how I’ll leave you today. Coming up on Thursday: you’ll never guess what’s coming to Italy. First it was Starbucks invading the land of espresso bars. Now, I’m not going to tell you, but it’s worse. Worse than Starbucks going to Italy. So hang on until Thursday and you’ll find out what it is.

If you’re enjoying listening to these Plain English lessons, then I bet you’d like Plain English Plus+. Our membership has been up and running for about five months, so we’ve built up quite a library of video lessons, one for each episode going back to number 179. The video lessons are all about how to express yourself and connect your ideas, so you can sound more professional, more polished, more like a native speaker. You know, often in Spanish, I find myself just saying small, simple sentences, one after another. What I’m missing is all the tools in the toolbox to connect complicated ideas. And that’s the whole objective behind these video lessons. Each one is about eight or ten minutes long. We have about 50 of them on the web site now, and they’re all available to Plain English Plus+ members—with two new ones each week. So if you’re ready to sound more professional, to step up your speaking and your writing, then I know you’ll benefit from the video lessons in Plain English Plus+. To get access to those, and whole lot more, come visit us at PlainEnglish.com/Plus.

¿Hablas español?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into Spanish. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

你说中国话?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parlez-vous français?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Você fala português?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

日本語は話せますか?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parli italiano?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sen Türkçe konuşmayı biliyor musun?

The transcripts of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Turkish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Mówisz po polsku?

The transcript of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Polish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Audio

Slow AudioFast Audio

The fast version of this expression is available for subscribers of Plain English Plus+.

Sign Up Today!