Idiom: It takes two to tango

Today’s lesson is an English idiom: “It takes two to tango”


Tango is a type of dance between two people that is characterized by a very close embrace, highly energetic, sometimes the dance has long elegant steps and complex footwork. See the picture at the end of this lesson.

The phrase “It takes two to tango” is a common expression that suggests there are some activities you can not do alone. You can not argue with someone alone, you can not make love to somebody alone, and you can not dance the tango alone. Both parties involved in a situation are responsible for the outcome. In other words, the activity can not happen unless the two people or groups are both tied to the activity.

This phrase is usually used to indicate a negative activity.


“I heard Mary and John are getting married, they both struggle to communicate and that’s important in a marriage – it takes two to tango”

“Perry is not good at talking to people, but he wants to be a salesman. To sell things it takes two to tango, so he better be prepared!”

Mary says: “Joanie got pregnant from George, how could she let this happen! She knows better!”
Bob replies: “Don’t just blame Joanie, it takes two to tango”