ENGLISCH/940: Questions to Mrs Gobbledygook (204) - pull yourself together (SB)

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

I sometimes hear the expression 'to pull yourself together', but I never thought it was correct English. Since it is the direct translation of the German term, I thought it was just another 'false friend'. Could you explain this to me in more detail, please?

Wolfgang S. (Black forest, Germany)


Dear Mr S.

Well, if you say to someone "pull yourself together", it is telling them to control their feelings. It is a phrase, that is fairly frequently used in English. I got an example here, how native speakers of English would use this:

"I went to see my friend David, and he was a bit in panic over his exams coming up. "Hi David", I said to him, "how is the preparation going for your exam tomorrow?" And he started wailing: "Oh, I can't learn all this. It's too difficult. I won't be able to answer any of these questions. My mind goes blank, when I enter the exam room. I don't know what I should do. I will have to leave this college if I fail the exams and my father will be so angry ..." So I said to him: "David, pull yourself together, it's not going to help you, if you panic. If you don't calm down you won't be able to remember anything. Now, let me help you with your revision."

So "pull yourself together" means: Calm down, don't panic, control your feelings. It is perhaps not so unusual to have come across a similar expression in German in a similar situation. I happen to know that the German "Reiß Dich zusammen" means quite the same.

Hoping that this will clarify your question and that in times of crisis and panic you will always have a good friend with good advice at your side...

Miranda Gobbledygook

23. Juli 2018

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