"to let him think on it and get an, uh, education or something behind him" is a full sentence I couldn't understand

What does that "or something behind him" mean? What can I find the verb up there?

  • 1
    Any further context? Mar 21, 2020 at 7:10
  • It's "(an education or something) behind him". (And your quote is not a full sentence.)
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 21, 2020 at 12:13
  • 'He's got a couple of degrees and three years in the SBS behind him' is speaking of a man's qualifications, both on paper and real-life. Often spoken of as 'what he's got to offer'. Mar 21, 2020 at 15:13
  • to get something behind oneself: to gain experience in something
    – Lambie
    May 2, 2020 at 17:23

3 Answers 3


Something which someone has "behind them" in this sense is something which supports them in their dealings with the world. Thus a doctor, lawyer, carpenter or blacksmith has a set of skills which can provide employment, income and the respect of others. A person could also have wealth or a powerful family "behind them" which would provide the same things.

The young man referred to in the sentence appears to be someone without ambition, application or an appreciation of the need to have "something behind him" and is in danger of having no solid standing in the world as a result. The speaker is not too clear about the course that the young man should follow as he says that he should get "an education or, uh, something" behind him, implying but not stating that a trade qualification would be adequate.

Of course it is always possible that the young man is building a career in sport or entertainment which the speaker does not recognise as being "a proper job" but that us a separate issue.

  • 1
    I think you're misinterpreting it. "Behind him" likely means the same as in "I'd sure like to get this whole COVID-19 thing behind me".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 27, 2020 at 22:06
  • @I'd agree with you if the experience was something more or less unpleasant that he had to endure for no permanent personal benefit. For example "He needs to get his military conscription behind him". However "getting an education or something behind him", even if the education or training is an unpleasant experience, confers tangible benefits on him. Conscription might do that but it's something that everyone has to do and the personal benefit isn't its primary objective.
    – BoldBen
    Mar 28, 2020 at 23:21

Your question is difficult to understand. Are you still learning English? If so, there is a StackExchange forum specifically for english language users. You may find more help there, but I'll try to answer your question.

I think you are saying that you read a sentence and part of that sentence was "to let him think on it and get an, uh, education or something behind him" and you do not understand it. In particular you do not know what 'something behind him' means. You also asked which word or words in the sentence are verbs.

What you are calling a sentence is not actually a full (or complete) sentence. It is part of a sentence (a sentence fragment). Something had to come before "to let him". For example, the full sentence might have been "Jennifer gave him time to let him think on it and get an, uh, education or something behind him."

That is a difficult, complex sentence. It has multiple nouns and verbs. It is best to separate sentences like this into parts and examine each separately. The first part of my sentence is "Jennifer gave him time". It has 3 nouns - 'Jennifer' (the subject), 'him' (the indirect object), and 'time' (the direct object) and a verb - 'gave'. In the next part, "to let him think on it", 'to let' and 'think' are verbs, 'him' and 'it' are nouns. In the final part, "and get an education or something behind him", 'education', 'something', and 'him' are all nouns and 'get' is a verb.

To get or have 'something behind you' is an expression that can mean a couple different things. 1) If you have to do something you don't want to, someone may say "just do it and get it behind you." In this case 'get it behind you' means to get it over with, to finish it, so you don't have to worry about it anymore. 2) Imagine a group of workers want better safety equipment. They pick Joe to ask the boss, but Joe is nervous. So they tell him "We're all behind you." Here 'behind you' means supporting you, it means they will help him if anything goes wrong. 3.) In your sentence 'to get an education behind him' is sort of similar. When you apply for a job the things that are 'behind you' on are the things that will help you get the job: your education, previous jobs, volunteer work, special skills. You may hear people say "he has a lot of experience behind him".

In my sentence above, Jennifer thinks that the man needs something more - probably in order to get a good job. An education is one thing he could 'get behind him' or he could find something else - like an apprenticeship, more work experience, military service, etc.


I'll inject a beginning so that this sentence is complete.

[We gave him time] to let him think on it and get an, uh, education or something behind him.

Now let's take out the "vocalization".

[We gave him time] to let him think on it and get an, uh, education or something behind him.

Finally, bold the segment in question.

We gave him time to let him think on it and get an education behind him.

Answering your question, the concept here is to provide the reader (or listener) with a future time as a reference point, such that he would have gotten an education (or something) in the past — that is: behind him.

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