a large and complex undertaking

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  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    A 'job' is a very general, ordinary word for any kind of job: big, small, professional, amateur, at home, in the workplace etc etc.

    An 'undertaking' would only be used for a large job, probably a complex job and with a nuance of 'responsibility' – if you take this kind of job on, you are responsible for seeing it all the way through successfully. It could still be at home (e.g. adding a large extension to your house); at work (e.g. a very large deal that will take many months of work), amateur or professional etc,. It is a matter of scale and seriousness.

    For this reason, the words in your sentence, 'large and complex' are perhaps unnecessary, but are being used to emphasise that it is a particularly difficult undertaking.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Thank you! do you sometimes use the word to mean it in a daily talk?

    let's say I work for a costruction company, a big project is about to start soon and a friend of mine knew it. In the context, I would say :

    oh I am very nervous about the
    next project at work. I've never experienced such an undertaking.

    is it correct?
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    It's quite unlikely you would use it in an everyday conversational context like this.

    The exception might be: you have explained all about the complex job you are about to start, then say, 'It's quite an undertaking!'
    Or: Jane had promised to help at the local garden show, but she'd had no idea it would be such a huge undertaking.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    It's quite unlikely you would use it in an everyday conversational context like this.

    The exception might be: you have explained all about the complex job you are about to start, then say, 'It's quite an undertaking!'
    Or: Jane had promised to help at the local garden show, but she'd had no idea it would be such a huge undertaking.
    I see. so if I explain how big the project is in my example, it would be fine to use "undertaking".
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    What I'm saying is that the word 'undertaking' in general conversation is generally only used as a sort of exclamation: What an undertaking! It's a huge undertaking!

    Two colleagues would be unlikely to say to each other: I'm really worried about this undertaking. They would use 'project' or even 'job' (a general term, as I've already said). 'Undertaking' is a fairly formal word used to describe the enormity and seriousness of a job. It's just not a very conversational word.
     
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