Earlier this month we focused on phrasal verbs that are used to describe problems and difficult situations. This week, we’re turning our attention to phrasal verbs that describe what we do in difficult situations. Deal with is one of the most common phrasal verbs in this area. If you deal with a problem, you take action that will solve it: When problems arise, it’s best to deal with them immediately. Get round (US get around) is another. If you get round a problem, you succeed in solving it, often by avoiding it: I’m sure we can find a way to get round the problem. / We can always get around the problem of space by building an extension. The phrasal verbs sort out and work out are also used with the meaning of ‘take action that solves a problem’: It was a useful meeting – we sorted out quite a few problems. / It’s a tricky situation, but I’m sure we’ll work it out in the end.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, we accept a difficult situation rather than taking action to change it. The phrasal verb put up with is often used with this meaning. (Very often, it’s used for bad situations that other people cause.) His behaviour is so bad – I don’t know how Maria puts up with it. A similar phrase is live with. If you live with an unpleasant situation over a long period, you accept it: I can’t change the situation so I’m just going to have to learn to live with it.
Some difficult or unpleasant situations cannot be changed and the only way to deal with them is therefore to continue to the end. There are several phrasal verbs for this, all ending in ‘out’. For example, if you continue to the end of a difficult or unpleasant situation in a determined way, you might say you tough it out or (informal) stick it out: It’ll be a difficult couple of months but I’m going to tough it out. / He’s finding the course hard, but he’s determined to stick it out. Other ‘out’ phrasal verbs in this area emphasize that you wait patiently for something to end, rather than taking action of any sort. For example, you might say that you wait something out: I’ll probably stay here and wait out the storm. A phrasal verb with a similar meaning is sit out: It’s not ideal but I guess we’ll just have to sit it out.
Here’s hoping you don’t have too much to deal with or put up with today!