English Lesson: “End Up”

I’ve mentioned before that using “how come” is a lot better than “why” because it’s a lot less direct.

  • Why do you know Japanese?
  • How come you know Japanese?

In sort of a similar way, using the phrasal verb “end up” can help you loosen up your speech. When someone asks you about last night, you could say: I watched a movie.

No glaring problems there. Subject, verb, and grammar are all on point. But if I say: I ended up watching a movie. The person who uses this sentence structure sounds a lot more comfortable speaking.

So what’s the difference? The short answer is, there really isn’t any. If you use “I ended up~” instead of the simple sentence, your listeners are going to interpret it as the same meaning.

However, if you wanted to dissect the nuance, “end up” focuses on the result. Let’s imagine this scenario:

  1. Yesterday, we had lunch.
  2. You asked me what I would do in the evening.
  3. I say I’m planning to watch a movie.
  4. The next day, we have lunch again. You ask me how was the movie.
  5. I say that I ended up staying home.

Here, “end up” indicates a result that was different from my original plan. I planned to watch a movie, but I ended up staying home. In this case, I’m highlighting the change of plans.

Keep in mind, sometimes we stick to our plan: I ended up watching a movie (just like I planned). Note: in both examples, we use the gerund form (verb + ing) after “end up”.

There’s one more variation in how we can use “end up”. We can take out the gerund and use a location. For example, I ended up at Taco Bell.

Now what can we interpret from that sentence?

  1. I planned to go to Taco Bell, and I went there.
  2. I planned to go to somewhere else, but I went to Taco Bell instead.
  3. (NEW) I got lost and somehow went to Taco Bell.

The question becomes, how do you know which meaning is behind the words?

Remember, context is the most important thing! From the person’s delivery and tone of voice, we’ll be able to tell if they had a change of plans or got lost. Don’t overthink it!

If you have any further question, or if you’re interested in booking an online English lesson, send an e-mail my way at letstalk[at]commdao.com

Published by Jon Dao

Formerly, the Conversation Coach

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