idioms: to beat someone to the punch / to beat someone to it

2012-08-22_13-18-04_727_edit0

Today’s idiom is “to beat someone to the punch”.  Another version of it is “to beat someone to it”. These are used when someone does something before another person gets the chance to do it. For example:

I was going to order a pizza, but my girlfriend beat me to the punch. It should be here soon.

I was planning to write a book about a boy wizard, but J.K. Rowling beat me to the punch.

I was going to eat the last piece of pie, but my sister beat me to it.

A: Hey, I wanted to sit in that chair!

B: Sorry, but I beat you to it. You’ll have to be faster next time!

There is almost no difference between these two idioms, but we usually say “to beat someone to it” with smaller situations such as being the first person to get something such as a chair or a piece of pie. Therefore, in these situations when we say someone beat us to “it”, the “it” refers to a physical object rather than an action.

In the idiom “to beat someone to the punch”, the “punch” refers to an action such as ordering something or writing a book because the word “punch” is an action word. (It means to hit someone or something).

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