figure out

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Sylvia_scj

Senior Member
Mandarin
Hi, everybody.

About the phrase "figure out", I was wondering if it could be used as "figure out solutions to sth.".
for example, we finally figured out the solutions to the problem of our low sales amount.

Can "figure out" and "solution" be used together?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • Monkey F B I

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I don't see why not. I think if you were to simply say "we finally figured out the problem of our low sales amount", there would be something missing from the sentence.

    It may seem a bit unnecessary to use "solution", but I'd certainly include it.
     
    Hi, everybody.

    About the phrase "figure out", I was wondering if it could be used as "figure out solutions to sth.".
    for example, we finally figured out the solutions to the problem of our low sales amount.

    Can "figure out" and "solution" be used together?

    Thank you in advance.
    Hello,
    I prefer "We finally figured out the problem with our low sales figures." or better yet "We finally figured out the cause of our low sales numbers/figures."

    "to figure out" already implies finding a solution and therefore "solution" is excessive.

    Drei
     
    Last edited:

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Yes. Figure out means that you are finding the way to find the correct answer; solution is the answer.
     

    Sylvia_scj

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you all.

    but if I say " We finally figured out the solutions to improve our sales amout." this sentence seems so natural to me. I don't know why. Can I put it this way?
     

    ADCS

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    Thank you all.

    but if I say " We finally figured out the solutions to improve our sales amout." this sentence seems so natural to me. I don't know why. Can I put it this way?
    Yes, you can say that, but you would need to change "improve" to "improving".
     

    ADCS

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    It's a bit redundant, but commonly used in speech. While it's technically incorrect, it's not wrong enough for people to misunderstand what you're saying, and will actually make you sound more like a native speaker.
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    I don't know if this is going to cause more confusion than understanding, but I have to disagree that "to figure out" always means "to solve". After all, doesn't one have to "figure out" the problem before one can "solve" it. Granted it's a nuanced difference, but a difference nonetheless.

    As far as using "figure out" and "solution" together, it really depends on the context. Sometimes it sounds right, sometimes not. I'm not so sure that "figure out the solution" is ever wrong, per se, just that it may not sound all that pleasing. You could say:

    We finally figured out the solution to improving sales.
    -or-
    We finally figured out how to improve sales.

    "Sales amount" sounds funny, so I would just use "sales". Further, I much prefer the second construction in this case.
     

    Sylvia_scj

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    I don't know if this is going to cause more confusion than understanding, but I have to disagree that "to figure out" always means "to solve". After all, doesn't one have to "figure out" the problem before one can "solve" it. Granted it's a nuanced difference, but a difference nonetheless.

    As far as using "figure out" and "solution" together, it really depends on the context. Sometimes it sounds right, sometimes not. I'm not so sure that "figure out the solution" is ever wrong, per se, just that it may not sound all that pleasing. You could say:

    We finally figured out the solution to improving sales.
    -or-
    We finally figured out how to improve sales.

    "Sales amount" sounds funny, so I would just use "sales". Further, I much prefer the second construction in this case.
    You really helped me understand it better. Thank you.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm confused now.
    Some suggest that you figure out a problem, you don't figure out the solution to a problem.
    Others allow both.
    Is this my confusion or just differences in usage?
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    I think I was being nit-picky. I only wanted to clarify the meaning of "to figure out". In many situations it might imply "to solve", but setting aside any implications, it means "to discern". If there is a really complicated math problem for example, one must figure out (discern) what it is asking before one can solve it (figure it out).
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    One also has to "figure out", not only how to work one's way through the problem, but also how to obtain the final answer. Figuring out how to answer this question is driving me bonkers!
     
    I think I was being nit-picky. I only wanted to clarify the meaning of "to figure out". In many situations it might imply "to solve", but setting aside any implications, it means "to discern". If there is a really complicated math problem for example, one must figure out (discern) what it is asking before one can solve it (figure it out).
    This is a good point. With a math problem, one has to figure out what to do in order to figure the math problem out. In the first case, one is solving the problem of not knowing how to approach solving the math problem. Go figure! ;):)

    Drei
     
    I'm confused now.
    Some suggest that you figure out a problem, you don't figure out the solution to a problem.
    Others allow both.
    Is this my confusion or just differences in usage?
    It's tricky because there are so many different usages.

    "John has a problem with his heart that he and his doctor are trying to figure out."
    "Mary figured out how to solve the mystery of the universe."

    However, going back to the sentence in the original post, I would change the sentence to "We finally figured out why our sales are low/down."

    Drei
     

    Mack&Mack

    Senior Member
    Korea & Korean
    I am not sure if I am allowed to put a follow-up question here, but is this the case with work out?

    I am trying to work out a solution for the low sales.

    I am trying to work out the cause of the low sales

    What do you think?
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Yes, it is necessary.
    What do I need to figure out?
    I need to figure out the toaster. :cross:
    I need to figure out why the toaster isn't working. :tick:
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And does this example work in the present perfect? Or, actually, I should use the present perfect?

    A: Have you figured out why the toaster isn't working?
    B: Not yet, I'll have a look at it today.
     
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