Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Collocations: pull

Type: Article

Tim Bowen pulls out all the stops with his description of the collocates of the verb to pull.

Many of the expressions containing the verb pull seem to have negative connotations. Some refer to trickery - to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, for example, meaning to try to trick or cheat someone by giving them wrong information. Then there is to pull a fast one, which also means to trick someone. If you use your influence in order to get something you want or to help someone else, especially if this is unfair, you are said to be pulling a few strings, while if someone pulls the strings, they are controlling a situation and the people in it, often in a secretive fashion. Such people often pull rank on other people (use the fact that they are more important or powerful to force them to do what they want them to do). They might also tell their subordinates to pull their socks up (tell them they are not doing their job well enough and that they must do better) because they are not pulling their weight (working as hard as their colleagues or the other people involved in an activity or a job). If you are the unfortunate victim, you might be upset by all this criticism but, after pulling yourself together (controlling your emotions and behaving calmly after being upset or angry), you could then pull out all the stops (make a big effort to ensure that something happens or is successful).

In the end, of course, you might find out that your boss was simply pulling your leg (telling you something that was not true, as a joke). The only response to this is to say “Pull the other one (it’s got bells on)”, indicating that you don’t believe a word of what they are saying.

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