Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you often have papers on your desk you need to organize?

Today we answer a listener question about vocabulary related to organization.

Listen in to learn vocabulary for you to get organized in the workplace.

Today’s question

I have a question. What is the most common way to express that “you are putting things in the right way, place or spot” for example: I have a bunch of documents spread all over the table and I want to say that I want to have them all organized, so how can I say that in a natural way?

Could it be… “let me fix all these documents before we go”? or “let me accommodate these documents before we go”? I’m kind of lost 😅. In Spanish we say “déjame acomodar estos documentos antes de irnos”

I hope you can help me. Thanks for everything!!❤

Jessica from Mexico City

Organization vocabulary

Jessica’s question is very insightful.

It highlights how something like organization is referred to differently across languages.

It rarely works to translate directly from a learner’s native language into English.

Lindsay and Aubrey share that, in American English, “fix” and “accommodate” are not used when referring to tidying up documents.

The word “fix” is a synonym of “repair” and “accommodate” is a synonym of “adapt to’.”

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Aubrey share with you the vocabulary you can use to say you are putting things in the right place at work.

Today we’ll share a few different words you can use to talk about organizing at work.

The words used will change depending on what exactly you plan to do with the documents.

#1: Straighten

This means straightening documents and putting them in a pile so they don’t look messy.

This can also be used for a room or objects.


  • I’m going to straighten these documents and then we can go.
  • Can you straighten the room?
  • I need to straighten that photograph.

#2: Organize

This has the same meaning as “sort”.

In this case, you are putting things or documents in order.

It can also refer to filing them in a certain order, such as alphabetical or by similar category.


  • I need to organize these documents before we go.
  • Can you organize these papers for me?

#3: Sort

This is similar to the verb “organize”.

The slight difference would be that “sort” is used more specifically for items that have to be separated and grouped using their similarities.

“Organize,” on the other hand, can mean making a pile clean and tidy regardless of whether items are categorized.


  • I’m going to sort these papers before we go.
  • Give me a second to sort these documents before the meeting.

#4: Put in order

Just like most of the vocabulary in this list, this is similar to organize and sort.

It means making sure everything is lined up and less cluttered than it was originally.


  • I’m going to take some time to put these documents in order.
  • I need to put these papers in order.


Here is a quick roleplay from Lindsay and Aubrey using today’s vocabulary in a conversation.

In this scenario, Aubrey and Lindsay are coworkers cleaning out an office.

Lindsay: I organized the documents that were in the desk and made a stack of papers to recycle. I’ll just straighten them so they fit in the box.
Aubrey: Awesome. These stacks over here have been sorted according to priority.
Lindsay: Nice. We can start with the highest priority and put everything in order.


Avoid translating directly from your first language and don’t trust the thesaurus!

Many words will be listed as synonyms that have a slightly different context.

Don’t just learn lists of vocabulary.

It’s better to learn words in context and use them in conversation to communicate your thoughts and intentions.

Take note of today’s vocabulary and add it to your English vocabulary arsenal.

What other vocabulary do you use to say you’re organized?

Share an example in the comments below.

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