Your English: Phrasal verbs: sort
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The phrasal verb sort out has a number of different meanings.
If you sort things out, you make arrangements for something, as in ‘Peter is sorting out the flights and Jenny is sorting out the travel arrangements at the other end’.
It is also used, often in the passive voice, to mean to do what is necessary to resolve a problem, disagreement or difficult situation, as in ‘This matter could be sorted out quickly if people could at least try to be reasonable’.
Problems can sort themselves out; in other words, they can end without anyone taking action to deal with them, as in ‘Don’t worry. I’m sure it will all sort itself out in the end’.
If people sort themselves out, they become more organized or sensible in order to deal with a particular situation, as in ‘Why don’t you sort yourself out? You’ll never get a job if you go around dressed like that’.
To sort out can mean to get rid of things that you don’t need and arrange things that you do need in a neat way, as in ‘I took his pile of invoices and receipts and spent an hour sorting them out’ or ‘I won’t be long. I just need to sort out my desk’.
It can also mean to find out information that allows you to understand something, as in ‘Investigators are still trying to sort out why the accident happened’.
Finally, if you sort someone out, you stop them causing problems for you, by talking to them or threatening them with the consequences if they don’t conform, as in ‘Don’t worry about him. I’ll sort him out for you’.