Question
21 Oct 08:33 PM
 Portuguese (Portugal)

English (US)

English (UK)

French (France)
Question about English (US)
What is the difference between I don't know what this word means. I need to find out. and I don't know what this word means. I need to figure out. ?Feel free to just provide example sentences.
What is the difference between I don't know what this word means. I need to find out. and I don't know what this word means. I need to figure out. ?Feel free to just provide example sentences.
Answers
21 Oct 09:12 PM
Featured answer
 English (US)
"Find out" refers to learning something by reading, asking, or research of some kind.
"Figure out" refers to using your own mind to think about it and get the answer that way.
So in the case of a word you don't know, "find out" is usually how you will know. Perhaps you will ask someone or maybe you will look in a dictionary.
"Figure out" would be commonly used for a math problem, or something you are designing.
"I don't know the answer to this math problem. I have to figure it out."
(by doing calculations with a pencil and paper)
"I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to build my bookcase."
(by making measurements and drawings of possible designs and thinking about it.
"Figure out" refers to using your own mind to think about it and get the answer that way.
So in the case of a word you don't know, "find out" is usually how you will know. Perhaps you will ask someone or maybe you will look in a dictionary.
"Figure out" would be commonly used for a math problem, or something you are designing.
"I don't know the answer to this math problem. I have to figure it out."
(by doing calculations with a pencil and paper)
"I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to build my bookcase."
(by making measurements and drawings of possible designs and thinking about it.
Highlyrated answerer
Read more comments
 English (UK)
 English (US)
"I need to find out" > CORRECT
"I need to figure out" > INCORRECT
"I need to figure it out" > CORRECT
"I need to figure out" > INCORRECT
"I need to figure it out" > CORRECT
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Highlyrated answerer
 Portuguese (Portugal)
@lydiadragonfruit could you tell me why I need to find out does not have "it"?
 English (UK)
 English (US)
That's just how the verbs are used. I don't know why.
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Highlyrated answerer
 English (US)
"Find out" refers to learning something by reading, asking, or research of some kind.
"Figure out" refers to using your own mind to think about it and get the answer that way.
So in the case of a word you don't know, "find out" is usually how you will know. Perhaps you will ask someone or maybe you will look in a dictionary.
"Figure out" would be commonly used for a math problem, or something you are designing.
"I don't know the answer to this math problem. I have to figure it out."
(by doing calculations with a pencil and paper)
"I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to build my bookcase."
(by making measurements and drawings of possible designs and thinking about it.
"Figure out" refers to using your own mind to think about it and get the answer that way.
So in the case of a word you don't know, "find out" is usually how you will know. Perhaps you will ask someone or maybe you will look in a dictionary.
"Figure out" would be commonly used for a math problem, or something you are designing.
"I don't know the answer to this math problem. I have to figure it out."
(by doing calculations with a pencil and paper)
"I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to build my bookcase."
(by making measurements and drawings of possible designs and thinking about it.
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Highlyrated answerer
 Portuguese (Portugal)
 Portuguese (Portugal)
@gg6ee Find out a math problem is you see the answer instead of trying to solve, right?
 English (US)
Your question about "it" is interesting.
We say
"find out (something)"
"figure out (something)"
"I need to find out what this word means."
"I need to figure out the answer to this math problem."
But we say
"find out"
"figure it out"
"I don't know what this word means. I have to find out."
"I don't know the answer is to this math problem.
I have to figure it out."
"Find out" and "figure out" are phrasal verbs (verbs that use more than one word). There is not one rule for all of them.
How they are used, if you use "it" or not, is just something you need to get used to and memorize.
Sorry, English is just like that.
We say
"find out (something)"
"figure out (something)"
"I need to find out what this word means."
"I need to figure out the answer to this math problem."
But we say
"find out"
"figure it out"
"I don't know what this word means. I have to find out."
"I don't know the answer is to this math problem.
I have to figure it out."
"Find out" and "figure out" are phrasal verbs (verbs that use more than one word). There is not one rule for all of them.
How they are used, if you use "it" or not, is just something you need to get used to and memorize.
Sorry, English is just like that.
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Highlyrated answerer
 Portuguese (Portugal)
 English (US)
Actually, now that I am thinking about it, you could use "find out" for solving it yourself, but "figure out" is a little better.
In common usage, "find out" is used both ways.
It is more that "figure out" has to, at least partly, involve your own thinking, not just asking.
Say you and your classmate tried to solve a problem and couldn't do it
at the time. Later you could say to you classmate either
"I found out how to solve that problem." OR
"I figured out how to solve that problem."
You could use "found out" for any way that you got the answer, either by asking or by thinking." (found out by asking, OR found out by thinking)
If you use "figure out" then you mean you got it by thinking about it yourself.
In common usage, "find out" is used both ways.
It is more that "figure out" has to, at least partly, involve your own thinking, not just asking.
Say you and your classmate tried to solve a problem and couldn't do it
at the time. Later you could say to you classmate either
"I found out how to solve that problem." OR
"I figured out how to solve that problem."
You could use "found out" for any way that you got the answer, either by asking or by thinking." (found out by asking, OR found out by thinking)
If you use "figure out" then you mean you got it by thinking about it yourself.
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