In Spanish, we have an idiom: "poner el hombro". The literal translation is "Put the shoulder".

You use that idiom when you are asking for help AND commitment from other people. You are, figuratively, asking them to help you push something in one direction putting their shoulders, with the aim of reaching some goal. You can figure out a group of people pushing with their shoulders something like a big cube, everyone in the same direction.

An example:

Come on people! We all need to make this recycling project work. It is necessary to [put the shoulder?] if we want to make of this world, a better world

What would be a good idiom with that meaning?

PS. I will appreciate your corrections because of my mistakes in this post. Thanks,

  • 2
    You mean something like echarle ganas o echar una mano?
    – Schwale
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 23:13
  • "Echar una mano" is used when you need help, like "give a hand". The meaning of "Echarle ganas" is pretty similar, but the difference is, in Spanish, it's very informal. I can figure out my boss saying "Poner el hombro", while he is giving us a speech, but if he would say "echarle ganas", it will sound too friendly.
    – Mario S
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 23:26
  • 1
    Does ponerle empeño work?
    – Schwale
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 23:27
  • Yes, "ponerle empeño" is practically the same.
    – Mario S
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 23:29
  • 1
    Give it all you’ve got, ‘cause you’ve really got a lot! Give it heart, give it mind, give it soul. Don’t stop! :-) Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 0:54

11 Answers 11


Put your shoulder to the wheel calls on you to make an effort: to figuratively push on a mired cartwheel to get the cart out of the mud and moving. It does not necessarily call on more than one person to undertake this effort, but it may, and often does:

We all have to put our shoulders to this wheel.

  • That's a great one. Would've never remembered that personally. Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 23:27
  • 1
    +1 I prefer alephzero's answer, but this is actually an idiom as requested.
    – Jammin4CO
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 21:10
  • It's gonna take a large cart wheel to allow the putting of more than one person's shoulder to it! Also--would you not prefer "shoulder" singular where you've used "shoulders" here?
    – Phil Esra
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 21:20
  • @PhilEsra I'l put my shoulder to the wheel, you put yours--there's two right there. And there were some pretty big wheels on old carts and wagons, and you could exert pressure on the spokes as well as the rims. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 21:36
  • @StoneyB, is singular incorrect? Or do you just prefer plural? Singular sounds better to my ear here--I'd speculate that this is because, assuming everyone being addressed has two shoulders, and assuming that there isn't a shared shoulder among them, singular is a clearer instruction or description of the action needed. But that's just me rationalizing my gut.
    – Phil Esra
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 22:40

A phrase which seems close to the Spanish idiom (note: I don't speak Spanish!) would be pull together.

We all need to pull together make this recycling project work

In a situation where people are arguing about what is the best thing to do, but not actually doing anything, you could ask them all to sing from the same hymn sheet or to get on the same page

We won't launch this recycling project successfully unless we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

We won't win the argument for starting this recycling project unless we are all on the same page.

  • I would have just used "work together".
    – Jammin4CO
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 21:09
  • 1
    "We all need to pull together" is the best answer that has been proposed so far--the most similar to the original concept, and the most commonly used. It's just the other side of your metaphorical cube--a group of people pulling the cube (with a rope, imagine) instead of a group of people pushing it with their shoulder. "We all need to pitch in" captures the "team" element well, and could be used here, but it doesn't convey the effort or difficulty the original saying seems to include.
    – Phil Esra
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 21:13
  • "We all need to get on the same page" is a very commonly used expression, but it is most typically used to indicate a need for people to stop arguing with each other, stop doing counterproductive things, and start to coordinate efforts--we need to get on the same page about which side of this cube we should be pushing.
    – Phil Esra
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 21:31

We might ask others to pitch in.

  • This is recycling's motto: Pitch In
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 9:46
  • True, but in the figurative meaning "to apply one's energies vigorously, as to a task", which was derived from the literal meaning "to attack", it existed long before the recycling movement did; some paper recycling icons, which show a humanoid tossing a piece of paper into a bin, harbor either a false etymology or a pun, having in mind the meaning "to hurl, to make a throwing motion with the arm".
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 11:02

The first thing that came to mind to me is elbow grease. I'm sure there are others, but that's what came to mind immediately when I read your eample sentence. It would be something like this:

Come on people! We all need to put a little elbow grease into this recycling project to make it work.

  • Awesome. This idiom is very different to a literal translation.
    – Mario S
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 23:30
  • 1
    With idioms it's often difficult to do a literal translation. I tried to give you something that referenced an arm. An elbow is close to a shoulder :-) Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 0:10
  • 1
    Ha, ha. Sorry, I wasn't complaining :-) I really like that idiom just for that, because it's different.
    – Mario S
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 7:34
  • 1
    Doesn't elbow grease refer more to hard physical labor?
    – Scimonster
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 16:21
  • 1
    @Scimonster While it originally referred to labor, the idiom simply means hard work. From my 2nd link : This term alludes to vigorous use of one's arm in cleaning, polishing, or the like. It soon was extended to any kind of hard work, and Anthony Trollope used it still more figuratively (Thackeray, 1874): "Forethought is the elbow-grease which a novelist ... requires." [First half of 1600s] Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 19:19

There is an idiom in English which perfectly captures the sense of "poner el hombro," and it has the added benefit of referring to the same body part. It is:

To work shoulder to shoulder.

In your example, it would be:

It is necessary to work shoulder to shoulder if we want to make of this world, a better world.


If you say it is equivalent to ecaharle ganas, then I would say

put effort into something
physical or mental energy needed to do something

So, I can imagine the person saying

We have to put some effort into it if we want to make of this world a better world.

This is an encouraging understatement. If the person wanted, he could also say

We have to put a lot of effort into it if we want to make this world a better world.

You might also consider

  1. stick to something
    to continue to follow a particular path, especially in order to avoid danger or to avoid getting lost
  2. give it your all
    try as hard as you can to succeed in something.


You need support from your team mates in order to win.

You want your friends to support you and your decisions.

In order for the building to stay up, it needs support.

Donating money to charity is a good way to show your support.

Support is not an idiom, it is the very word that describes the answer to your question.


"We need buy in from every member of this team to finish the project on time."

This phrase implies that people need to make a strong commitment to own something (an idea or project).

For example, you wouldn't make a quick uninformed decision to buy a car without thinking about it first. And when you do decide to buy a car, you have made up your mind and you already feel like an owner, even though you haven't taken possession of it yet.

Similarly, you would take possession of a project or idea by "buying in" to the concept. You make the project your own. When a whole group or team of people buys in to a concept, the result is passion and determination from each person.

  • "Buy in" is like to be convinced of something, isn't it?
    – Mario S
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 0:31
  • If my boss used such language, I'd think of pointy hair.. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 7:33

Come on people! We all need to make this recycling project work. We need everyone to step up to the plate if we want to make of this world, a better world

The idiom "step up to the plate" is from baseball, and in general usage means "take responsibility". From TheFreeDictionary:

to take responsibility for doing something It is time companies stepped up to the plate and made sure the meat they sell is safe to eat.


"It takes a village", has gained popularity in recent years. Applied to any endeavor that requires some group effort, but usually not as much as an actual village. It is literal and idiom at the same time.


It takes a village to change the world.

Also, Its all for one, and one for all.

We're all in this together. Keep your stick on the ice. (Red Green, Hockey reference)

Lets Roll! (post 9/11)


"Once more -unto the breach, dear friends" actually from King Henry the Fifth, by William Shakespeare, King Henry is rallying his troops to attack a breach, or gap, in the wall of an enemy city.

People especially say it if they have to ask more of a group.

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