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

There are many meanings for the phrasal verb ‘work out.’

In today’s episode, we focus on the meaning ‘to be successful.’

This phrasal verb is ideal for checking in with your colleagues.

It also helps transition the conversation into your social life.

Listen in to find out how to use this extremely useful phrasal verb!

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In today’s episode, we will be talking about one meaning of the phrasal verb ‘work out.’

For something to ‘work out’ means for it to be successful.

This was inspired by a listener from China who sent in a question.

Today’s question

“Can you girls explain how to use the phrase ‘work out’? I have heard this phrase used in different situations and I was wondering how to use this phrase correctly. Thanks in advance.”

This is a fascinating question because there are so many meanings for just this one phrasal verb.

Today we will focus on one meaning, which is to have success.

How to use ‘work out’

You can use this phrasal verb in the business setting.

It’s perfect for a situation where you ask your colleague about things that matters to them.

This is such a great way to make a connection and learn how things have worked out for them.

Today we share three different ways you can use the phrasal verb ‘work out’ to talk about success.

#1: Making predictions


Oh! Do you think it will work out?

How do you think it’s going to work out?

#2: Discussing results


How’d that work out?

So, it didn’t really work out.

#3: Asking about a goal or a new purchase


How’s not eating sugar working out?

How’s reading every day working out?

Bonus: How’s that working out for you?

If this is said in a sarcastic tone, it is a way to imply that you are skeptical that something is going to end up well or be successful.

Aubrey shares that she just started waking up at 4:00 AM to start working.

When she shared this with one of her friends, the friend said, “How’s that working out for you?”

The friend believed waking up that early may just end up making her more tired at the end of the day.

How to respond when asked

When you are asked, “How are your goals working out?,” it is very unnatural to answer, “My goals are not working out.”

You do not want to repeat phrases in this way.

Instead, replace the noun with a demonstrative pronoun.

It’s not working out so far.

It hasn’t been working out.

That’s working out great.

This will make you sound more natural and prevent repetition.

Asking about goals

It’s always helpful to have friends that hold us accountable for goals we set.

When you ask about someone’s goal, you show you care and remember what is important to them.

Another sample question is ‘How is drinking more water working out?’

This question is asking a friend about their progress toward this goal.

Useful in the business world

This phrasal verb is perfect to use in business English to make that connection between you and your colleagues.

For example, you can use it to ask how a presentation worked out or how a proposal turned out.

It is asking a valuable question that makes them feel important.

It shows you remember something important they told you about.

This is a good way to check in with people in your workplace and build a stronger relationship with them.


Now that you’ve learned how to properly use the phrasal verb ‘work out’, we share a roleplay to give you an idea of what it sounds like in a conversation.

In this scenario, they are work colleagues.

They just left a meeting that Aubrey led.

Aubrey: I wasn’t sure how that’d go. But I think it worked out.

Lindsay: Yeah! You did a great job!

Aubrey: Thank you! I’m a bit worried about meeting the annual goals.

Lindsay: I hear you. I think it’s going to work out though.

Aubrey: Speaking of goals, how is your goal of running every day working out?

Lindsay: Oh. It’s really not working out.

Aubrey: Yeah, if I set that goal, it definitely wouldn’t work out.

Notice in the conversation that they transitioned from discussing work to talking about their personal goals.

As mentioned, this is a good way to build rapport with your friends at work.

If you talk about work all the time, you won’t be able to make a personal connection with your colleagues and make your office a better place to work in.

A phrasal verb for humility

Using the term working out shows you are humble.

Many ways to share that something went well sound boastful.


“I think I did great in the presentation.”

“I rocked that proposal!”

It’s much more subtle to say “I think it worked out.”

It shows humility while still expressing that you did well.


The phrasal verb ‘work out’ has many different meanings.

With today’s episode, you can perfect using it to discuss how successful something was.

It is a great way to share the successes you and your friends or colleagues have achieved.

It is also a nice way to share goals you are still working on or have not achieved.

You can build that connection by finding similar experiences in the goals you are trying to attain.

What is something that has worked out well for you recently?

Share details in the comments below.

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