hands not free? [have (got) hands full]

easychen

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

I hold a box with my right hand, and grab a bag with my left hand, so I can't do anything else using my hands. How do you native speakers express this situation?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    "I have my hands full."

    We use this phrase literally, as when we are in the situation you describe. We also use it metaphorically, when we have too much to do, or will have a difficult time accomplishing what we are trying to do.
     

    easychen

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    "I have my hands full."

    We use this phrase literally, as when we are in the situation you describe. We also use it metaphorically, when we have too much to do, or will have a difficult time accomplishing what we are trying to do.
    Thanks Cagey. And on a related note:
    Since I have my hands full, I now try to free my hands to open the door.

    Does that sound natural to you?
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    Thanks Cagey. And on a related note:
    Since I have my hands full, I now try to free my hands to open the door.

    Does that sound natural to you?

    This isn't a really natural thing to say. We would use the future tense "I'll now try to..." and that makes it a little better, but regardless it still sounds very strange to me as a statement.

    Actually, if my hands were full, I'd probably ask someone else to open the door.:) "I've got my hands full right now - could you open that door for me?"
     

    easychen

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    This isn't a really natural thing to say. We would use the future tense "I'll now try to..." and that makes it a little better, but regardless it still sounds very strange to me as a statement.

    Actually, if my hands were full, I'd probably ask someone else to open the door.:) "I've got my hands full right now - could you open that door for me?"
    Hi clevermizo,

    Let me rephrase it like this:
    ...Since my hands were full, and there was no one around to help, I tried to get my hands free(or free my hands) to open the door.

    Is that ok?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I might say:
    Since my hands were full and there was no one around to help, I tried to free up a hand to open the door.

    Except for vault doors, I think one hand will do it. :)
     

    easychen

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I might say:
    Since my hands were full and there was no one around to help, I tried to free up a hand to open the door.

    Except for vault doors, I think one hand will do it. :)
    Hi Copyright,

    I'm having lunch but I think it's time for me to free up a hand to type to say thank you.:)
     
    a question!
    can I say 'I have my hands full' when I don't actually hold anything, but just bake a cake or draw a picture? [I mean, when your hands do smth, but not just hold]

    p.s. if I literally translate how we say it in russian, it'll sound like 'I have my hands busy' or 'my hands are busy' [:D] no matter which of the situations you are in. so, that's why I'm asking.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Sure. If I'm cooking dinner, for example, and the phone rings, I might ask my daughter, "Could you get that? I've got my hands full."

    (Also, use of chat-type abbreviations like "smth" are not allowed here.)
     
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