Here’s what I discovered last April: the phrasal verb push through does not mean what many of us Filipinos think it means.

We tend to use push through to mean that an activity would occur or happen. So we’d say:

A survey of English language dictionaries, however, reveals that push through means something else:

  • To work through or force one’s way through something; to move (an object) by exerting force against it; thrust or shove; to apply pressure against for the purpose of moving. Examples: I pushed through the snow, trying to get to the post office on time. The snow was very deep, but I pushed through. Push a shopping cart through the aisles of a market. We pushed our way through the crowd. (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs, American Heritage Dictionary)

Should we continue using push through to describe whether an activity will take place or come about? If your reader is comfortable with Filipino English, then I guess there’s no harm done. Otherwise, we can use other terms, such as:

  • We will proceed with the talks.
  • Will the meeting proceed as scheduled? Will the election still take place? Is the Board still holding a caucus on Friday?
  • The company is pursuing the project.
  • Is the party still on? *
  • The seminar is a go.** (Informal)

* Here, on is used as an adverb, meaning “due to take place as planned”. Example: The reorganization is still on. (Source: The New Oxford American Dictionary)

** Go (noun): a project or undertaking that has been approved. Example: Tell them the project is a go. (Source: The New Oxford American Dictionary)

Photo credit: Seadoc Software


8 thoughts on “Push through

  1. Thank you Ma’am! Appreciate it so much.. :))

    Thanks and Best Regards,

    Nena N. Bermudo
    Acting Executive Assistant
    Technology Management Group
    Land Bank of the Philippines
    1598 M. H. del Pilar cor Dr. Quintos Sts., Malate, Manila

    “This communication is intended solely for the use of the addressee. It
    may contain confidential or legally privileged information. If you are not
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  2. I never knew it was wrong, until Mam Janet showed us the way. Thanks for sharing this as well as the seminar

  3. You are right. Also when we use this phrase, we mean also “to continue” (We will push through the plan). I am now living outside the Philippi nes and I think I should now be careful is using this phrase. I mean I will use it the way how the English world understands it.

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