to pull out: meaning and explanation

If you pull out (of something), it means you change your mind about participating or being involved in something. This is often used when we are talking about social or business arrangements.

Imagine you have arranged with your friends to go to the cinema together on Friday, but change your mind because you aren’t feeling very well. You would call them and let them know that you were pulling out.

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

Dictation #1

Accent: Northern England

I of the last minute I'd forgotten passport.
I had to out of the trip the last minute I'd forgotten to renew passport.

…at the last minute

To do something at the last minute means that you do it at the latest possible time. e.g. Tom is incredibly disorganised and always leaves everything to the last minute.

…because I’d forgotten

The past perfect (…I had forgotten…) is used in this sentence because the action (forgetting) happens before the main action of the sentence (deciding to pull out), which is also in the past.

The past perfect communicates the past before the past, or the earlier past..

Discussion questions

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

  • Do you have an annoying friend who always pulls out of things at the last minute? Give me an example.
  • Have you ever had to pull out of something at the last minute? What happened?