The sentence

This is going to be my chance to _____ any difficulties.

is from an English test. Possible answers include: "solve", "sort out". And an examinee have to choose ONLY one right answer.

I'm pretty sure that "sort out" fits that sentence. But according to the dictionary the verb "solve" seems to be an acceptable choice too.

Could you please tell me whether the sentences

This is going to be my chance to sort out any difficulties.

This is going to be my chance to solve any difficulties.

are both idiomatic(natural) or not?


Both are fine. Difficulties can be idiomatically sorted out, solved or resolved (and a great many other things).

As The Free Dictionary explains, to sort out can mean:

  1. To understand or resolve a problem or conflict. A noun can be used between "sort" and "out." They brought in the head of human resources to sort the issue out. I've spent nearly an hour on this math problem, but I still can't sort it out.

And Macmillan includes the definition: to deal with something successfully

Whether you chose sort out or solve (or some other verb) something is both a matter of preference and context. You are more likely to solve a maths problem and to sort out human relations issues.


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