phrasal verb + clause ‘work out how you did it’

At C2 in the English Vocabulary Profile:

work out = to understand something or to find the answer to something by thinking about it

A search in NOW corpus for which ‘question words’ follow phrasal verbs:

work out _*Q

1 WORK OUT HOW 12286

Just give us five minutes, Mr Poirot, and Im sure we‘ll be able to work out how you did it.

listen

2 WORK OUT WHAT 11671
3 WORK OUT WHICH 2141
4 WORK OUT WHERE 2074
5 WORK OUT WHO 1991
6 WORK OUT WHY 1882
7 WORK OUT WHEN 658
8 WORK OUT WHATEVER 57
9 WORK OUT WHOSE 29


There is no English Grammar Profile entry for phrasal verbs + question word + clauses, so we looked into iWeb corpus for this structure:

_VV _RP _*Q

1 FIND OUT WHAT 128669

Although the phrasal verb ‘find out‘ is listed at A2 in the EVP, the learner example does not get followed with a clause.  A search in the PELIC corpus shows ‘find out what‘ is used with errors at intermediate but gets accurate at level 5 or B2 which is the highest level they have.  In the EVP, ‘what’ referring to something without naming it, is listed at B1.  This combined structure should be at the very least considered to be a marker of B2 complexity.  Finally, if we look at similar profiling of complexity in the following B2 grammar example:   “How did you find out about the party?”, we should easily accept that a clause in this position is of equal or higher complexity.

 

When children find out what they are interested in, they will do it and will not stop.

Chinese, Female, level 5 reading class

2 FIGURE OUT HOW 111941
3 FIND OUT HOW 96079
4 FIGURE OUT WHAT 94565
5 FIND OUT WHY 23689
6 FIND OUT WHICH 23377
7 FIGURING OUT HOW 23021
8 FIND OUT WHO 21441
9 FIGURED OUT HOW 20831
10 FIGURE OUT WHICH 18878 (figure = C2)

I needed to figure out which one could fit better.

PELIC Suundi, Female, Level 4 grammar class

11 FIGURE OUT WHY 18777
12 FIND OUT WHERE 15992
13 FIGURING OUT WHAT 15657
14 FIGURE OUT WHERE 14983
15 WORK OUT HOW 13734
16 CHECK OUT WHAT 12781

Check out what we‘ve got.

listen

17 WORK OUT WHAT 12501
18 FIGURE OUT WHO 9617
19 FINDING OUT WHAT 9026
20 FIGURED OUT WHAT 7874
21 FIND OUT WHEN 7449
22 CHECK OUT HOW 7308
23 FOUND OUT WHAT 5366
24 WRITE DOWN WHAT 4468
25 FINDING OUT HOW 4014
26 PICK UP WHERE 3790

We can pick up where we left off.

listen

27 FIGURING OUT WHICH 3786
28 WORK OUT WHICH 3355
29 FOUND OUT HOW 3297
30 WORKING OUT HOW 3272
31 POINT OUT HOW 2850
32 FIGURING OUT WHERE 2664
33 GET OVER HOW 2573
34 GOING ON WHEN 2427

Was it still going on when she had the accident?

The Descendants

35 TAKE ON WHAT 2418
36 WORKING OUT WHAT 2416
37 PICKS UP WHERE 2211
38 FIGURE OUT WHEN 2195
39 SHOW UP WHEN 2155
40 POINT OUT WHAT 2020
41 FINDING OUT WHO 1992
42 FIGURING OUT WHO 1951
43 CAME ABOUT WHEN 1915
44 FIGURED OUT WHY 1884
45 WORK OUT WHERE 1866
46 POINTING OUT HOW 1782
47 WORK OUT WHY 1782
48 WORRY ABOUT HOW 1779
49 MAKE OUT WHAT 1777
50 PICKED UP WHERE 1759
51 COME BACK WHEN 1757
52 WORKED OUT HOW 1750
53 SETS OUT HOW 1742
54 LIGHT UP WHEN 1697
55 GO OVER HOW 1615
56 SHOW OFF WHAT 1609
57 POINTED OUT HOW 1591
58 COME ON WHEN 1535
59 PICKING UP WHERE 1533
60 FIGURES OUT HOW 1481
61 FOUND OUT WHEN 1480
62 FOCUS ON HOW 1435
63 FOUND OUT WHY 1397
64 WORRY ABOUT WHEN 1392
65 GIVE UP WHEN 1305
66 TURN ON WHEN 1302
67 FOUND OUT WHO 1286
68 WORRY ABOUT WHERE 1257
69 WORK OUT WHO 1234
70 SORT OUT WHAT 1220
71 FINDING OUT WHICH 1211
72 TAKE ON HOW 1206
73 WORKED OUT WHAT 1206
74 LOOK UP WHAT 1193
75 POINTS OUT HOW 1187
76 THINK THROUGH WHAT 1153
77 FINDS OUT WHAT 1084
78 PAID OFF WHEN 1075
79 SUMS UP WHAT 1073
80 FIGURING OUT WHY 1072
81 BREAK DOWN WHAT 1060
82 TURN OFF WHEN 1046
83 COME UP WHEN 1032
84 TURNED OFF WHEN 1019
85 POINTING OUT WHAT 1015
86 SHOW OFF HOW 1012
87 CAME OUT WHEN 1011
88 GO THROUGH WHEN 1007
89 FINDING OUT WHERE 991
90 COME OUT WHEN 983
91 FIGURES OUT WHAT 983
92 CONTROL OVER HOW 980
93 MAKE UP WHAT 958
94 PICK UP WHAT 957
95 REFLECT ON HOW 954
96 TAKE BACK WHAT 954
97 COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW 940
98 BACK UP WHAT 931
99 GET BACK WHAT 915
100 COMES UP WHEN 909


A search for

_VV _RP _CST

1 POINTED OUT THAT 197007 B2 in EVP

First, Johannes Kepler pointed out that orbits aren’t perfect circles or spheres.

TED

2 POINTING OUT THAT 52104
3 POINTS OUT THAT 51689
4 POINT OUT THAT 51660
5 FOUND OUT THAT 42856
6 TURNS OUT THAT 31030

It turns out that she is still in love with her best friend.

listen

7 FIND OUT THAT 20240
8 TURNED OUT THAT 13654
9 FINDING OUT THAT 4917
10 FIGURED OUT THAT 4632
11 FINDS OUT THAT 3481
12 FIGURE OUT THAT 3127
13 CAME OUT THAT 2632
14 WORKED OUT THAT 2112
15 RULE OUT THAT 2029
16 GOING ON THAT 1840
17 GOES BY THAT 1760
18 TURN OUT THAT 1222
19 GOING AROUND THAT 1166
20 WORK OUT THAT 1163

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