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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