Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you like to talk out problems with friends or family members, or do you prefer to figure it out yourself?

Are you somebody who likes to talk things out right away and settle your problems?

We’re going to look at the phrases that you may use when you are talking things over with your friends and family, particularly after there is some sort of problem.

This is a situation that may come up often, and so you want to be prepared in knowing how to talk it through in the right way.

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Understanding How To Talk Through This

In the last episode in this series, we talked about phrasal verbs that you may use when taking a class.

Today we are talking about phrasal verbs to use when talking through problems with people you know.

Problems are always going to arise from time to time, particularly when you are close to somebody.

You may have arguments, disagreements, or just in depth conversations—and sometimes you may have to talk things over.

You may just want to turn to your family and friends when you are dealing with a problem on your own.

There are so many different phrasal verbs that you can use when it comes to talking through a problem.

A few of the most common phrasal verbs in this area include the following.

Talk up

Talk down

Talk out

Talk over

Talk through

Talk with

Talk at

Talk into

Talk about

Though the differences in these phrasal verbs seems minor, they all have different meanings.

Each one is used at different times, and so you want to get used to putting them into your conversations at the right time.

There may be a wide range of problems that you want to discuss including telling a friend about a problem, a difficulty, or a struggle.

Sometimes the problem may have to do with somebody that you are close to, and sometimes it may just be in a certain area of your life.

Knowing how to talk through these things is a great conversation and connection skill, so you want to learn these well.

Looking At These Common Phrasal Verbs and Phrases

There are a few common phrasal verbs that you can use to discuss problems, and these are very helpful.

Here are a few of the most common ones that you may use in your conversations when a situation like this may arise.

  • Talk out / Talk over: When you talk out something, you may discuss it with somebody before deciding on a course of action. You may lay out your options or talk over the details. This is basically putting everything out there so that you are both aware of the situation, and you can figure out how to proceed. You might say “I’m having some issues with my neighbor, can I talk it over with you?” The second meaning here is that you may be talking while someone else is talking. In this instance you are talking over them, and it’s not a positive thing. It may be that you both have something important to say, but when you are talking over each other you don’t really get anywhere.
  • Think through: This is very similar to talk over, as it’s all about laying everything out there. In this case you are almost giving a visual as to how you may think through the situation at hand. You may need to put some thought or detail into things so that you can figure out your outcome. You could say “I need to think through how I’m going to get everything on my To Do list done.” Another example in a professional setting is that you could say “Let’s think through this marketing strategy.”
  • Run up against: This means that you are coming face to face with some sort of adversity. You are dealing with or coming across an unexpected problem or difficulty, and it may often be something you didn’t anticipate. This issue or problem is what is causing you to feel frustrated or to have problems, and so you need to figure it out to move forward. You could say “My daughter’s soccer team ran up against a fierce competitor last week.” In a professional setting, you may say something like “We’ve run up against some problems at work that we need to talk over.”
  • Wrestle with: This is something that you struggle with. It may be something standing in your way to solving a problem or coming to a decision or solution. It may be that you are frustrated or having a hard time with some issue in your life. You likely will find a solution, but for the time being it’s causing you some distress. You may say “I wrestled with when to talk to my daughter about puberty and drugs.”
  • Sort out / Figure out: You can almost visualize this when you hear this phrasal verb because it’s something we all go through. It has a similar meaning to wrestle with and it means attempting to solve a problem or situation. You have to sort out the details so that you can come to a conclusion. You have to figure out what the issue at hand is so that you can find some sort of resolution. You could say “I need to sort out how I’m going to accomplish all the goals I’ve set!”

All of these phrasal verbs work in these types of situations.

They are common, and so if you practice them you will figure out the best conversations to use them in.

Roleplay To Help

As you can see there are multiple phrases in this area that you may use, perhaps because it’s a very common type of situation to work through.

In this roleplay, Lindsay and Aubrey talk through some problems that they are having and how to work through them.

Lindsay: “I’ve run up against a problem with a neighbor. Can I talk it over with you?”

Aubrey: “Yeah, for sure. What’s going on?”

Lindsay: “It’s a younger couple and they’re just so loud at all hours of the night – playing loud music and yelling. I’m wrestling with whether I should talk to them about it.”

Aubrey: “That would be frustrating, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out. How long has this been happening?”

Lindsay: “It’s been since they moved in about two months ago.”

Aubrey: “I wonder if they’re just not thinking through how it’s affecting their neighbors.”

Lindsay: “Yeah, that’s possible.”

Aubrey: “It’s definitely something you need to sort out if it’s keeping you awake!”


This is a great way to learn phrasal verbs, as it’s a common scenario that you may experience over and over again.

They can be difficult because each verb has so many meanings that are unrelated, so just take it slow.

Try to pick a scenario and learn the phrasal verbs we use for it, so you can ease into this and get some practice.

You will be able to use the right phrasal verb for the right situation.

If you learn today’s verbs in context, you’ll be able to learn the meaning of each one and use them next time you discuss a problem.

This can be a very helpful part of conversation, and of building and maintaining connections too.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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