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:
- JBC meeting will push through Friday, says SC spokesperson (Inquirer headline)
- RH bicam conference: Will it push through? (Rappler headline)
- Aquino-Corona meeting won’t push through (ABC-CBN News headline)
- GMA meeting with labor leaders to push through (Philippine Star headline)
A survey of English language dictionaries, however, reveals that push through means something else:
- To get a new law or plan officially accepted; to force passage of a motion or law. Examples: The government is pushing the changes through before the election. The committee chairman managed to push the bill through the committee. With a little lobbying, they pushed it through. (Oxford Learners Dictionaries, McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs)
- To compel to accept. Example: the bill was pushed through Parliament. (Collins English Dictionary)
- To force something to penetrate something. Examples: Tony pushed the needle through the cloth and drew the thread tight. He pushed the needle through just like a tailor. (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs)
- 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)
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