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Working at a plan

edited June 2018 in Suggest a new category
A translation of a German phrase into English read:
"He is working at a plan" 
I indicated that it should be:
"working on a plan"
To which I became the reply that, as the plan had already been completed and the person is now working to fullfill this plan, I was incorrect and "working at a plan" was in fact and without a doubt the correct, grammatical form.
I've never heard this said before.  Working to/up/on a plan, but never "at".
Am I really wrong?
I would really appreciate it if someone could shed some light on this for me.

Thanks in advance...

...a somewhat confused Scotswoman  abroad...  😐


  • I agree that work on a plan suggests that the plan has not been completed.

    I also agree that work at can mean 'address the task'.

    But for me, a plan is not a 'task'. I'd be reasonable happy with work at the planned task or work at the fulfilment of the plan. But I think I'd prefer something with to or towards: work to a plan or work toward the fulfilment of a plan.

    Other possibilities are work as planned, contribute to a plan, follow a plan ...

    This a very subjective reaction. I'll be interested to see what others think.

  • Hello @SCOTTYMUM. We asked our editorial team for their input on this one, too, and in our corpora, they have been able to find only one use of ‘work at a plan’ compared to 2,478 examples of ‘work on a plan’. This is actually quite striking, as we usually see quite a few examples of things that are still considered mistakes or errors, such as misspellings. This suggests that it’s a very uncommon phrasing, and is likely to cause confusion or be unclear if used.

  • Thank you for your comments.
    @joughtred you agree with me that it's an inaccurate translation from the German into English? Or am I being too pernickety....

  • you agree with me that it's an inaccurate translation from the German into English? Or am I being too pernickety....

  • That depends on what the German means. I suspect the best translation might be
    He's working to a plan meaning 'There is a plan and he's working to fulfil his part in it.'

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