pull your weight 6

pull your weight: meaning and explanation

When you are doing something as part of a team, you are pulling your weight if you are working as hard as you should be working, or contributing as much as the others in the group.

This expression is generally used in the negative, to say that someone is being lazy or not contributing much to a project. This person is not pulling their weight. In these situations, the other members of the group or team have to work harder to compensate for the lazy team member

This expression comes from the sport of rowing. Based on someone’s weight (i.e. their size) you can expect them to ‘pull’ or row with a certain amount of strength. If they contribute less than this, they are not pulling their weight (and their team mates will have to work even harder if they want to be successful).

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: Scottish

If team isn’t , you boss know .
If in your team isn’t their weight, you let your boss know away.

…let your boss know straight away…

Straight away is a useful synonym for immediately.

Notice the useful structure to let someone know something, which means to tell someone something. e.g. I’ll give you a call to let you know that we’ve arrived safely.

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Almost everyone has experienced being part of a team which includes someone who doesn’t contribute as much as they should. What is your experience of this? What did you do about it?
  • Be totally honest – do you think there has ever been a time when you didn’t pull your weight?

Photo by Stijn Swinnen on Unsplash

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Working as a team is better than working alone but, at the same time, it’s quite important that everyone pulls their weight. Especially in family life. For instance, in order to keep the house neat and tidy, we all should pull our weight.

About the second question, I remember a time when I had to acknowledge that if I wanted my marriage to succeed, then I had to pull my weight in being kinder, more patient and learn to live with the ‘supposed’ tiny mistakes of my husband that seemed to be kind of irritating


One of the reasons I don’t like working in groups is because there’s always someone who doesn’t pull their weight. At least, it used to happen more often at school and college. Now that I have alrealdy finished my graduation and started a postgraduate, I realized that my new colleagues are much more responsible and I feel that now I am the person who doens’t pull their weight. Just a question: It’s not the first time I realize that you use expressions with a subject in the singular and a pronoun in the plural, like in this case: “This person… Read more »

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