AE 538 – Expression: Tie Up Loose Ends

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you the expression TIE UP LOOSE ENDS and tell you about Australian dingoes.

AE 538 – Expression: Tie Up Loose Ends

The dingo. Icon of Australia. Noble survivor in a tough land.

Dogs can go three weeks without a drink. They’re not getting their water out of a dam. They’re getting their water out of blood and fat reserves they’ve got in their body.

The dingo has inserted himself into the ecology. It’s the type of country they are absolutely perfectly built for.

Do we need them to balance our environment?

We can recover threatened species and ecosystems simply by allowing the dingo to do what the dingo does.

They’re always going to be treated as the enemy. I believe our only option is to destroy the dogs.


G’day, guys! How’s it going?

Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. This is Aussie English, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English as well as anyone trying to get their English from intermediate and advanced to beyond.

Okay, guys, if you want to get the transcripts and the MP3s in the bonus content for this podcast go to And if you would like to get access to my 50 plus courses, for English obviously, advanced English even faster work on pronunciation, learn more expressions, everything like that, to And remember, guys, I am updating the website soon. I’ve got Praveen, my IT guy, working on it. He’s putting the two sites together. And we’re going to hopefully turn this into an app in the near future this year too. So, stay tuned for that. Anyway.

Intro aside. The movie scene there at the start, that little clip, was from a documentary by ABC called Dingo: Wild Dog at War. Now, guys, if you don’t know what a dingo is, this is the wild dog that is found in Australia, and it’s a bit of a contentious issue as to whether this is a native species or a non-native species. It’s classified as both, I believe, depending on where you are in Australia. Anyway. That documentary is absolutely amazing. So, check that out. Just do a search for “Dingo: Wild Dog at War”. I just finished watching it, myself, and I learnt so much about Aussie wildlife, as well, dingoes! Dingoes rule. But we’ll get into them a bit more in the Aussie English fact today. Alright.

So, let’s start guys. As always, I have a joke for you. Okay? Buckle in. Sit down in your seat. Get ready. Here comes the Aussie joke, although, it’s just an English joke it’s not really Australian-oriented this week. Alright. Here’s the joke:

Why don’t scientists trust atoms? Why don’t scientists trust atoms?

Because they make up everything. They make up everything.

So, do you know the phrasal verb there, guys, “to make up”, “to make up”. If you make something up, it can be that you compose that thing, right. Like, so, many atoms, one of the tiniest forms of matter, if you do physics or chemistry you’ll know about atoms, they make up everything, meaning they compose or constitute everything that exists, right, like, I am made of atoms, my pen is made of atoms, the Earth is made of atoms, you know, oxygen, calcium, carbon, everything like that. That’s an atom.

But the other meaning of “to make up”, if you make something up, it’s to invent a story, to lie, right, or to create something. So, if I tell you a story and I made that story up, the idea is there that I lied, I fabricated the story, it’s not real, right.

So, why don’t scientists trust atoms? Because they make up everything!

Anyway, guys, the expression today is “to tie up loose ends”, right, and you’ll often hear this as “to tie up some loose ends”, or you might hear the verb “tidy up” some loose ends. Okay?

So, this was from Djib. He suggested this in the Aussie English Classroom. As we go through each week and get everyone to compile their expressions, we then vote on them, and Djib one this week. Good job, mate.

So, let’s go through the definitions of the different words in the expression “to tie up loose ends”.

So, “to tie something up”. If you tie something up, you interweave it, or the ends of two things, right, so that it is in the form of a knot, right. So, if I put my shoes on, I tie my shoes up, I tie the shoe laces in my shoes. And I’m turning this into a phrasal verb with “up”, “to tie up”, meaning to completely tie, right. I tie up my shoe laces, maybe there’s a cord that I have in here somewhere, I don’t know, there’s a cord here on the table, if I tie that up to keep it out of the way, I’m into weaving it.

“Loose”. “Loose” means not firmly or tightly fixed in place. So, detached or able to be detached as well. So, if you’re wearing a belt, and the belt around your waist isn’t very tight, it’s loose. If you are tying down some stuff on the back of your ute in your car, right, imagine you’ve just bought a new fridge, you put it in the back of your car, you want to tie it down, you don’t want the ropes that you used to be loose, because they won’t hold that fridge in place. You want them to be tight, not loose.

The last word here is “end”. “An end”. An end of something is the final part of that thing. So, you’ll have an end of a rope, right, or the end of a shoe lace, the end of this podcast episode, the end of a road, the end of a movie. I’m sure you guys know the word “end”.

So, let’s define the expression, and it’s a great work place expression. This is some really good business English to use this expression “to tie up some loose ends” or “to tidy up some loose ends”.

So, what does the expression mean? It means to deal with minor consequences of a previous action, to tidy up, to finish up, to completely finish something, to complete something. Or you could say that it is to complete the parts of something that you were doing or have done that have not yet been completed. Okay? To tie up some loose ends. So, I guess, the best example I could give you is you’re trying to tie up your shoe laces, you get halfway through it, and then you have to tie up the loose ends, right. You have to finish what you’re doing.

So, the origin of this expression. Well, literally, “loose ends” is referring to row or string or cable, right. Some kind of long cord. And if a sailor, for example, needed to prepare his boat for departure, he has many things to do, one of the minor details is making sure to tie any untied strings on the boat up, right. He has to make sure all of the loose ends are tied up.

So, you’ll hear this expression in business contexts, as well as some more informal conversational English context as well. People at a company might talk about tying up loose ends of a work project, right, if their finishing work, okay. And it’s been used since the 1800s, so this is one that’s been hanging around for a while. Alright.

So, I’ve already given you a few examples, but let’s go through three examples of how I would use this expression in day to day life. Okay.

Example number one. Imagine you’re a businessman, you’re a banker, or some high up exec, right, an executive, and you’ve decided to leave the financial world and buy a farm, move out into the country and grow some sugarcane. So, you got sick of the hustle and bustle of city life, the stress of business, and you want to go and retire to a country… somewhere quiet in the country and, you know, kick back and relax. Before you leave, though, you have to organise your work, so that when you hand over your position to whoever gets your job, the transition goes smoothly, without any hiccoughs or confusion. So, your boss might say to you, “Can you make sure, mate, that you tidy up any loose ends at work before you leave for the farm? Can you tie up all the loose ends in your job? Organise all your work. Complete the parts of everything you’ve been doing that you haven’t yet finished. Make sure everything’s done and dusted. You need to tie up any loose ends at work.”.

Example number two. Imagine you’re running some errands or you’re doing some shopping one day and you bump into a mate whilst you’re doing so. You know, you walking down the aisle with your trolley, you’re putting Vegemite and fairy bread, and whatever other Australian thing into the trolley, and you see your mate walking down the aisle, and because it’s been awhile, you haven’t caught up with him in a long time, he asks you over to his place. He says, “Oh man! We haven’t caught up in ages. Did you want to come over tonight, sink a few beers with me, we can have a meal, we can hang out, we can watch the footy, whatever? Let’s just catch up.”. And you tell him, “Oh man! I’d totally be up for that. I would love to do that. But I’m running a few errands. I’ve got some stuff at home that I have to finish. I’ve got some chores to do. So, I’ll head over to your place later on, but I have to tie up some loose ends first. I have to go home and finish the tasks that I was doing, I have to complete those tasks, I need to go home and tidy up a few loose ends to tie up a few loose ends.”.

The last example here. Imagine you’re a criminal. You’re in an organised criminal gang, right? Could be the Mafia, but be whatever. I’m not in one, so I don’t know that much about them. But imagine you’re a criminal in a gang, you’re the leader of this group, you deal drugs, you deal weapons, and whatever other kinds of dodgy stuff that gang criminals deal in. You’ve got a huge deal coming up with a rival gang, you know, you guys are selling cocaine or AK 47s to one another or whatever, but before you can do so, you know that some cops have been keeping an eye on you. They’ve been tailing you. They’ve been trying to investigate your criminal activities, and try and stop you from committing any crimes, right. But you know you have to deal with these police officers before this deal can go ahead. So, maybe that means making them disappear, i.e. kidnapping and murdering them, right, and then burying the bodies somewhere hard to find.

So, you might tell the other guys that you’re doing this deal with, “Look, we’re still on for the exchange. It’s still going to happen. If you’ve got the money, I’ve got the product. But first, I need a tidy up some loose ends. I’ve got to tidy up some loose ends before we can do this deal. I need to tie up some loose ends. I need to finish this unfinished work, i.e. getting rid of the cops.”.

So, hopefully now, guys, you understand the expression “to tie up some loose ends”. Remember, it is a great one to use at work when you have finished tasks that you need to finish before you do something else. I have to tidy up some loose ends.

So, as usual, let’s get into the listen and repeat exercise, guys, where you can try and mimic, you can try and shadow, my pronunciation here if you are working on your Australian English accent. If you are not working on that accent, all good, use your accent, but just say these sentences after me, and maybe focus instead on things like intonation, rhythm, and emphasis. Okay. Let’s go.


To tie

To tie up

To tie up some

To tie up some loose x 5

I’m just going to tie up some loose ends.

You’re just going to tie up some loose ends.

He’s just scared to tie up some loose ends.

She’s just going to tie up some loose ends.

We’re just going to tie up some loose ends.

They’re just going to tie up some loose ends.

It’s just going to tie up some loose ends.

Great job, guys. I know that’s not easy. That was a bit of a long sentence there in the second part of the lesson and repeat exercise, and I know that there is a lot of connected speech going on between these words, and there’s a lot of letters disappearing, right? Did you hear “just” or did you hear “jus(t)” when I said one of the phrases like, “I’m just going to tie up some loose ends”. And did you hear the D in “ends” or did you hear no D, and instead, it sounded like “en(d)s”. “I’m just going to tie up some loose ends.” Interesting, huh?

Remember, guys, if you want to learn more about this stuff, get into the Aussie English Classroom. At the moment, you can sign up for your trial period of 30 days for the price of just one dollar. Guys, I do that because I believe in the course. I know it’s going to help you. There are 50 plus English courses in there designed to get your English to an advanced level, so go check that out.

And for this episode and the previous two episodes, I’ve been creating dialogues, right, so examples of natural conversations with expressions, slang, really good vocab that you’ll hear on a day to day basis, and I’ve been putting these in the Classroom to complement these episodes and give you… just give you more awesome English to learn that you’ll here in real life from Aussies and from other native speakers.

Anyway, let’s get into the Aussie English fact, guys, where we’re going to chat all about dingoes and then I will let you get on with your day.

So, dingoes, guys. What are dingoes? Have you heard of dingoes before? Let me give you a hint. *Awwwwooooo!*. So, dingoes are a subspecies descended from the grey wolf as are domestic dogs, though, dogs and dingoes are still considered to be the same species, Canis familiaris.

Their distribution covers most of the mainland of Australia, although, you are much less likely to come across them in the southern parts of Australia, and they are actually absent from some of these areas including the island of Tasmania in the south east.

What’s the difference between dogs and dingoes? Now, I just said they are the same species, but they’re different subspecies, which means that they have different features whether that’s morphological, behavioural, or even genetic, that distinguish them from your average dog. So, they were effectively a population of dogs, that once diverged, came to Australia maybe a few thousand years ago, a significant amount of time ago, and they’d been on their own since, at least, until recently. And as a result of being the same species as dogs, domestic dogs, they can actually interbreed with wild dogs in Australia, which has led to the majority of dingoes, unfortunately, being hybrids and not pure dingoes, at least, on the mainland. Pure dingoes, though, are found in some very isolated areas of central Australia, the Pilbara region in W.A., and on Fraser Island in Queensland.

So, how and when did dingoes arrive in Australia? And this is the stuff that gets me really passionate and, I don’t know, it just it tickles my fancy. It makes me interested. This is what I love learning about. So, until recently, it was believed that dingoes arrived in Australia between 8,000 and 4,000 years ago. So, that is much, much, much, much, much later, much more recently, than when aboriginals first got to Australia. So, they would have been here in Australia from about 40,000 to 60,000 years ago, for the majority of that time they were alone, and then, more recently, they had pet dogs arrive and adapt to this environment.

So, despite that number 8,000 to 4,000 years being given, recent work using carbon dating on the oldest dingo bones that have ever been found has estimated their age to be only 3,500 to 3,000 years old, so, even more recently potentially that they arrived in Australia. And subsequently, they estimated the arrival of dingoes to be as recently as 3,500 years ago or 1400B.C. And then, they rapidly spread across the Australian mainland.

Interestingly, the other recent research that was done in the last year or two found evidence of a migration of people from South India dating to about the same time 2217B.C. to be precise, which is a slightly earlier date than the older dingo bones ever to be found were dated to. Given their striking resemblance to wild dogs found in India, it seems plausible that these Indian migrants may have brought the dogs with them and introduced them to the people in the environment Down Under. And interestingly aboriginals share DNA with these Indian migrants. So, they actually got to Australia and merged with the indigenous Australian population that was there. However, there are similar dogs found in New Guinea and Indonesia, so the true origin of the Australian Dingo remains unclear. What we do know is once they arrived they spread quickly via Aboriginal groups that use them for things like hunting, protection, a source of warmth at night, and also obviously, as man’s best friend.

So, why are dingoes important for the Australian environment? This is a contentious issue Down Under. The Australian ecosystem adapted to the dingo following its introduction to the Continent, although, a number of native species went extinct in the process on the mainland the most notable of which were the Tasmanian Tiger or the Tasmanian Wolf or Thylacine and the Tasmanian Devil, and they were restricted on the Tasmanian island where there were no dingoes. And unfortunately, at the start of the 20th century, the Thylacine went extinct, as you may or may not know. But fortunately, we still have the Tasmanian Devil.

So, nowadays, there is some controversy as to whether dingoes should be considered native animals or non-native animals in large part because of their hybridising with wild dogs and their predation on farm livestock, which leave many farmers fed up and frustrated with what they should do. In some places where dingoes are considered non-native animals, anyone actually has the right to be able to hunt and shoot them with no repercussions. However, scientists have been doing a lot of research recent years and they say that whether we like it or not dingoes are here to stay and they are a very important part of the Australian ecosystem, and they represent a top predator on the food chain in the ecosystem. So, they have an important role in controlling other introduced feral predators like feral cats and the European red fox, which if left to their own devices with no dingo there. could grow in numbers, out of control, and kill many more native animals as a result, and drive them to extinction. So, leaving the dingo in place may actually allow the recovery of many threatened and endangered native animals in Australia by controlling these pests.

So, finishing up, guys, my question for you is, have you ever seen a dingo in real life whether in the wild or at a zoo? And secondly, do you think that they should be left to their own devices to roam freely in Australia, or do you think that they should be removed once and for all?

Thanks for joining me, guys. I hope you enjoy this episode. I hope you’ll check out this doco on dingoes. I hope to see you in the Aussie English Classroom as well. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you soon. Peace.

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