What’s holding you back? You!

What's holding you back? You!

Hey there everyone!

I was studying Japanese today, and it got me thinking about the toughest part of learning a language. I had a bit of a writer’s block about how to begin this little blog today. Nothing was coming to me, and I nearly threw in the towel with intentions of trying again another day.

僕の心に響いた記事タイトル ‘holding someone back’

Then, the phrase that you can see in the title of this little article hit me: holding someone back.

This is one of the most literal phrasal verbs. By that, I mean that it’s straightforward to imagine the actual meaning of this phrasal verb when you look at the literal meaning of this phrasal verb as well!


‘hold someone back’の使い方①

If you look at this literally, ‘hold someone back’ means to restrain or stop someone from doing something.

For example,

He held his sister back, before she jumped into the pool.

In this situation, his sister was about to jump into the pool, but he stopped her by holding her back.


‘hold someone back’の使い方②

However, this phrase can be used for more than just physical actions. That’s right, it can also refer to other reasons why someone is reluctant to start or do something.

For example, here’s another example using this phrase:

What’s holding you back from starting to study English?

Looks like a complicated sentence, I know!

However, let’s focus on the meaning of What’s holding you back~? here. When it’s used with a non-physical action, hold someone back means to cause someone to hesitate to do something. So, you could also phrase this sentence as:

Why are you hesitant to study English?

That’s right! It’s a Why~? question.

僕に響いた言葉、”What’s holding you back?” は、自分への問いだった!

For the longest time, this question applied to me and Japanese. However, I finally found the answer.


Well, that might not be completely accurate. There was something holding me back, but it was easy to stop. I was holding myself back! I had no excuse for not studying. Not only that, but once I started studying, I really, really enjoyed it. In my opinion, this holds true for all languages, since they are incredibly practical. While I do have my degree in science, I freely admit that, at least initially, it’s not that easy to see the connection between the theories that you learn and the real world. That’s because the study of science, in most cases, describes things we cannot see. While chemistry is all around us, from the batteries in our phones to the food on our plates, the actual study of chemistry lies beneath the physical manifestations of the reactions, and instead focuses on the activity occurring at the particle level! This is a double-edged sword when studying. In the beginning, it’s difficult to see the connection between what you are studying, at the particle level, and what is actually occurring around you. However, the reward that you get when you finally connect all these different theories, and then test them out in the lab and physically see the results of your efforts, is momentous!

For languages, it’s the complete opposite. Although you do learn theory and grammar, you can use these rules to communicate at once, and use your language to discover new things! So, what’s holding you back from reaping the immediate rewards of English?


Learning English is immediately rewarding. And, although it might seem like you don’t have any opportunities to learn, there are opportunities out there, both online and in the real world! The sense of satisfaction that I get from using a new Japanese phrase in the real world is without parallel, and it’s a feeling that everyone should have. With over a billion English speakers in the work as well, you have infinitely more opportunities to use that new English phrase as well!

So, nothing should be holding you back!

And, if you’re holding yourself back, ask yourself “Why?!”


See you on Fruitful English to reward yourself with some English!


フルーツフルイングリッシュで英語表現の楽しさ感じてください 。初めての方には英作文添削チケット2回分をプレゼント。



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日本の小中学校で英語を教えるALT講師Nic先生は非常にユーモラスな先生です。台湾でも英語を教えていました。どこでも適応できるのがNic先生が自慢ができること。「肉先生」と読んで欲しいとたまに呼びかけられるかもしれません。こんなコミカルで愉快なNic先生から楽しく英語指導を受けませんか? 座右の名"The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for."