Deal with it! (Phrasal verbs for managing problems)

raffaelemontillo/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

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!

27 thoughts on “Deal with it! (Phrasal verbs for managing problems)

  1. Wow, loved this article a lot. It was so useful and helpful in order to improve our vocabulary besides our culture and lexical background. I often have no time to read Cambridge posted but I must deal with it and make time. Thank you so much

  2. Barenya

    Hi I would like to add a word in this regard.

    Incur (something): If you incur something unpleasant, you are in a situation in which you will have to deal with it.

  3. Lead Pencil

    all the posts in this blog are always helpful. However, I have a suggestion. It is mostly said in the posts that there are several words/phrasal verbs for the same meaning. but some are explained in detail. In my opinion the extra words/phrasal verbs can be added as a list at the end of the post.

  4. Osman

    Well it’s very interesting this was the first time that I read something after I finished studying ingles however I felt so interested about It, I hope I could read more articles like that thanks for that have a good day.

  5. Ratnayake

    Dear Kate ,
    Life is all about confronting problems .We can sort out most of the problems in life .But at times we would have to live with some of them. Some of the Phrasal verbs you have mentioned here are totally new to me and some I have seen before but I had not known where and how to to use them correctly.Therefore, thank you for stuffing us with these interesting phrasal verbs which describe how we face dificult situations in life.Further,I eagarly look forward to read your next post. Best of luck.

  6. Aswathi

    Hey Kate… Thanks for this informative post… Many new new phrases were​ there which I have never seen before…Great work!

  7. Ramprakash

    I am relatively new to this blog and I stumbled upon this blog from an unrelated search .
    This blog would be handy for my nephew . He is eight and an aspiring author . Kate thank you for your work and I look forward to more of it ..

  8. Arsenio Matino

    Great and helpful! Many of them are new for me, and a found them interesting! I am waiting for your next posts. Thanks a lot!

    1. Carlos Corrales Blanco

      I’m hopful about what I can learn from from your posts,and at the same time gratful for your help. Thanks so much.

Leave a Reply