to tackle — "to deal with" or only "to try to deal with" ?

loviii

Senior Member
russian
Good day!

One of "to tackle" definitions from ldoceonline.com:
to tackle — to try to deal with a difficult problem

oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com:
(1) Firefighters tackled a blaze in a garage last night.
ldoceonline.com:
(2) It took twelve fire engines to tackle the blaze.

According to above definition the firefighters in both examples only tried to deal with the blaze and we cannot exactly say whether the fire was extinguished or not. Right?

Thanks!
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    In the first, you cannot be entirely sure that the fire was extinguished. However, with the second sentence, "it took" very strongly implies that the fire was extinguished. I very much doubt that they waited for the twelfth fire engine to arrive before they even started trying to deal with the fire.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Tackle means to work on a problem.

    The context in 2 tells you that problem was successfully resolved.

    The context in 1 implies it heavily. No modern firefighting company is going to have trouble putting out a garage fire on the same night they are called.

    On Saturday, local firefighters were called out to tackle the fast-moving Mission Ridge forest fire.

    There is no indication whether they put it out or not.
     
    Last edited:

    loviii

    Senior Member
    russian
    I've tried to supplement (1) to make it absolutely clear whether the firefighters extinguished the fire or not:

    Firefighters tackled a blaze in a garage last night but the damage was still significant:
    After such a sentence we can exactly say the fire was extinguished.

    Firefighters tackled a blaze in a garage last night but they couldn't extinguish it:
    After such a sentence we can exactly say the fire was not extinguished.

    Am I right?

    Thanks!
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    If the fire was put out ('extinguished') that's what would be said/written. 'Tackle' means 'fought'. You would need to use 'successfully' to show they were successful in putting out the fire.
     

    loviii

    Senior Member
    russian
    I've never seen a sentence like this. Either they succeeded in extinguishing it or it's still burning.
    As I understood you wrote both next sentences are incorrect:

    Firefighters tackled a blaze in a garage last night but the damage was still significant.
    Firefighters tackled a blaze in a garage last night but they couldn't extinguish it
    .

    Could you explain me why?

    Thanks!
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's not about grammar but about expression. When we talk about firefighters we emphasise what they succeeded in doing.
    In the second sentence especially, do you really mean the fire is still blazing? If so that's what you say!
     

    loviii

    Senior Member
    russian
    I can't understand your train of thought.
    1)
    In the second sentence especially, do you really mean the fire is still blazing? If so that's what you say!
    Firefighters tackled a blaze in a garage last night but they couldn't extinguish it:
    After such a sentence we can exactly say the fire was not extinguished.
    2)
    It's not about grammar but about expression. When we talk about firefighters we emphasise what they succeeded in doing.
    Could you explain why the next sentences have the wrong expression:
    Firefighters tackled a blaze in a garage last night but the damage was still significant.
    Firefighters tackled a blaze in a garage last night but they couldn't extinguish it
    .
    Thanks!
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    The word 'tackled' isn't being used correctly. It doesn't carry any connotations of success. It means they fought the fire.
    We need more complicated structures to express more complicated ideas. We also need to decide what is the most important element of our message.
    - Although twelve fire crews tackled the oil refinery fire, it is still burning but under control.
    - Twelve fire crews successfully tackled the oil refinery blaze. Despite their efforts there was substantial damage.
     

    loviii

    Senior Member
    russian
    'Tackled' means 'fought'.
    The word 'tackled' ... doesn't carry any connotations of success. It means they fought the fire.
    If we replace "tackle" with "fight" in the initial examples, their meanings won't change and likeliness of whether the fire is put out or not, will remain the same, right?

    Firefighters tackled a blaze in a garage last night. = Firefighters fought a blaze in a garage last night.
    It took twelve fire engines to tackle the blaze. = It took twelve fire engines to fight the blaze.


    Thanks!
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    "Tackle" does not mean "fight". In my experience it means "start to work on". Typical uses:

    You ready to tackle that new project? Let's get started.
    Bob does the easy work, and leaves it to me to tackle the tough problems.


    Our dictionary defines it as: to work with something; to begin work on something
    and gives the BE definition to undertake
    and uses the example to tackle a problem
     
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