Archive for August, 2014

idiom: to not be a spring chicken

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Today, I’d like to write about the expression “not be a spring chicken”. We use it when we want to talk about a person who is getting much older or who is already quite old. Here are some ways to use it in sentences.

Please slow down! I can’t go as fast as you can. I’m not a spring chicken anymore.

A: Is your boss old?
B: Well, he’s not so old, but he’s not exactly a spring chicken either.

My aunt is no spring chicken, but she’s still a very active person.

The members of that band are no spring chickens anymore, but they still make very good music.

In English, a “spring chicken” is a young chicken between the ages of two months and ten months old.

We almost always use this in grammatically negative sentences. It is possible to use it in a positive sentence, as in “He’s just a spring chicken.” meaning he’s very young. However, these cases are quite rare, so it’s more common to say “He’s not a spring chicken.” meaning he’s quite old.

We can use two types of negation with this expression. We can use the word “not” + “a” + “spring chicken”, as in my first two examples. We can also use the word “no” + “spring chicken”, as in my last two examples. Both ways are commonly used.

Please note that “spring chicken” is countable, so if we’re talking about more than one person, we must add an “s” to the word “chicken”. This is the case of my last example.

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grammatical expression: a wake up call

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Today’s blog entry is about the term “a wake-up call”. We use it when we want to talk about an event which makes a person realize that they have to change some kind of negative behavior. Let me give you some ways to use it in sentences.

I used to smoke, but when my friend died of lung cancer, it was really a wake-up call for me. I quit smoking very soon after that.

My son has been lazy about studying, so he failed his last exam. I hope that will be a wake-up call for him.

I heard about a guy who didn’t save much money until he was in his fifties. Now he’s old but very poor. That was really a wake-up call for me, and now I’m saving as much money as I can.

Yesterday in the news, there was a story about a man who was killed while driving drunk. That should be a wake-up call for all people who drink and drive.

We can use this expression in all types of sentences, but it’s most commonly used in grammatically positive sentences.

As you can see from my examples, we put the preposition “for” after this term, and then that is followed by the person who is doing the negative behavior.

We can also use this term to talk about a situation in a hotel where a person gets a call from the hotel staff early in the morning in order to not be late for something.

In the case where it means to stop a negative behavior, the idea is that the person is not conscious of the possible negative effects their behavior can have. When the bad event happens, it “wakes them up” from that unconscious state and makes them change.

This term can be used in both business situations and daily conversations.

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