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Sometimes I get confused whether to use figure or figure out.

Example:

Cynthia didn't blame his dad for being so quiet. She just figured (out) some fathers found it more difficult to communicate with their daughters than others.

I'm not sure which one I should use. Is there a way of knowing when to use the first and when the latter?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

She just figured some fathers...

In this case just is synonymous with simply.

She just figured out some fathers...

In this case just is synonymous with very recently.

Figure tends to mean realised or thought.

Figure out tends to mean solve.

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Wow, never thought about it like that. Thanks. –  janoChen Oct 10 '13 at 12:55
    
Although it sounds like "figured out" is more akin to "found out" than "solved" and should be followed by a "that" in your second example. (could be personal preference). –  userNaN Oct 10 '13 at 13:00
1  
@userNaN I would say the the that is optional. –  Matt Эллен Oct 10 '13 at 13:02

to figure means :

  • to appear, rather conspicuously

  • to represent (on a paper, in imagination, etc.)

  • to ascertain (US-English)

to figure out means :

  • to work out by mathematics

  • to estimate

  • to understand

to figure on is US-English, meaning to expect, to count upon

In your example, it means that she realized (and admitted) that ...

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