grammatical expression: manage to (do something)


Today I have another expression which many of my students misunderstand: “manage to”. This is used when talking about something we are able to do successfully, but that was not easy to do. For example:

I woke up late this morning, but I managed to get to work on time.

My team had to work overtime, but we managed to meet our deadline.

That novel was over 1000 pages, but I managed to read the whole thing in two weeks.

So in all of these examples, the person is successful, but when they say “manage to”, they are stressing the fact that it was difficult to accomplish.

We can also use this expression as a question. For example:

Do you think you can manage to write this report without making any mistakes?

In this case, the speaker is NOT being polite. It sounds like the person is angry about a previous report that contained many mistakes. I don’t recommend using this expression as a question because people won’t like you if you do. However, unfortunately, sometimes you might hear another person say this. I hope that no one speaks to you in this way though.


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