#34 Adapt or Adapt To – Transcript

As you may know, we’ve been working on changes at VenturEnglish. And you may have noticed that these changes have been taking a long time, and we’ve had to adapt to some new systems and new ways of doing things. In fact, we’ve learned that when it comes to software, we have to adapt to it more often than we can adapt it to us. But what about this word “adapt?” We “adapt” and “adapt to.” Are they the same or different?

I’m Paul Preston, and you are listening to “ 3 Minute English!,” a podcast in English, about English for English learners. Today we’ll look at these two expressions and how to use each one.

Well, the simple answer is, they are very different. And that’s why using adapt correctly is really important. 

First, let’s look at the simple verb “adapt.” Adapt just means to change something to fit the requirements of a situation. It’s an active verb, and when you are the subject you are making a change. For example “We’ll adapt the company rules to match the new GDPR laws.” This means we will make changes in our own company rules to match or accommodate the GDPR laws. The subject, or actor, is “we” and the object is the “company rules.”  Another example is “You should adapt your advertising to reach your market. That is you should change your advertising to match the market.

Now let’s look at the phrasal verb “adapt to.” In this case, the subject of the sentence needs to change to match a condition. It’s an active verb too, but the subject must change itself to match the conditions of the object. What does that mean? Well, let’s look at a couple of examples to illustrate. I have to adapt to the daylight saving time change every year. How about you? Well, of course, I can’t change daylight savings time to suit myself. So I have to change myself to match daylight savings. How about this example?  When I moved to Japan I had to adapt to narrow roads and smaller cars. Of course, I’d change the road size if I could but I could only change myself!

So these are the ways to use “adapt” and “adapt to.” We can say: We had to adapt our negotiation style to deal with our Australian clients. Or We had to adapt to the Australian negotiation style. Both are correct sentences but the meaning, and the nuance changes. 

Well, I hope that helps a little. Thanks for listening If you have a question or just a comment email me from the VenturEnglish website. While you are there, have a look at some of the new things we’re setting up there. Oh and please please take a moment to rate the podcast in the iTunes store. It helps a lot to reach more listeners. I’m Paul Preston and this has been 3 Minute English!