Archive for grammatical expression

grammatical expression: look on the bright side

Today I have another grammatical expression for you that is often used in English: “look on the bright side”. We use this when there is a negative situation, but we want someone to focus on a positive aspect that this situation has created. For example:

A: I had to work overtime every night this week!

B: Well, look on the bright side. Your paycheck this month will be a lot higher.


A: I lost my job, so I had to move back in with my parents.

B: Look on the bright side. At least you don’t have to cook your own meals right now.


A: I’m sick with the flu and I can’t go to work today!

B: Well, look on the bright side. You can relax at home for a day or two.

So, as you can see from my examples, we use this expression as a response to another person’s complaint about their situation. We usually say it as a way to try to make people feel better about their negative situation.

grammatical expression: when pigs fly


Today’s expression is “when pigs fly”, and it is used when we want to say that something is never going to happen or that we have no intention at all of doing something. For example:

A: When are you going to finally go out with me?

B: When pigs fly! I’m never going to be your girlfriend!


A: I think you should vote for Bill Richards.

B: I’ll vote for him when pigs fly. I hate that guy!


A: My husband made dinner for me last night. It was so romantic.

B: Unfortunately, my husband will do that for me when pigs fly. I wish my husband were more like yours.

This expression means “never” because pigs will never be able to fly. So if someone asks you when you will do something and you know you will never do it, this expression can be very useful. However, you should be aware that it’s a little strong when said directly to a person asking you a question. In the first example, person B is not being polite because she doesn’t like the guy who is asking her for a date and she wants him to leave her alone.

grammatical expression: easier said than done

Today I’d like to write about the grammatical expression “easier said than done”. It is used when we want to respond to someone who thinks a particular thing is easy, but you know that it’s not. For example:

A: If you practice hard, you’ll be able to win the piano competition.

B: That’s easier said than done. There are a lot of good pianists in the competition this year.


A: Making an omelette isn’t difficult. You just have to beat some eggs, add some cheese and vegetables and then cook them.

B: Well, for me that’s easier said than done. I’ve never made an omelette before.


A: I don’t understand why you can’t quit smoking. You just have to smoke one cigarette less every day.

B: You’re not a smoker, so you don’t understand. That’s much easier said than done.

So, as you can see, we usually use this expression when responding to someone else’s statement. Even though we say it directly to the person, it’s not considered rude to say this.

grammatical expression: end of story

Today’s grammatical expression is “end of story”. It is used when we make a statement about something and we feel there is nothing more to be said about it. This is because we think the statement contains such truth that nobody could argue against it. For example:

Angelo’s Pizza Shop has the best pizza in this city. End of story.

If you invest in this company, you’ll make a lot of money. End of story.

People who are happy don’t treat other people badly. End of story.

A: Why did Oscar buy that car? It’s so old and ugly.

B: He bought it because it was cheap, and he hates to spend money. End of story.

This expression is generally used in conversation or in casual writing, but we don’t usually use it in formal writing. We can use this expression to express a personal opinion that we believe strongly or something that is considered a universal truth, as in my third example.

grammatical expression: once and for all

Today I’d like to write about the expression “once and for all”. We use it when we want to say we are going to do something in a firm way in order to get a strong result and we don’t have to do it again. For example:

The garden is overgrown with weeds. We have to get rid of them once and for all.

My son still doesn’t know how to spell properly. I have to teach him proper spelling once and for all.

My husband keeps trying to fix the broken faucet, but it still doesn’t work. I’m going to call a plumber and get it fixed once and for all.

Jerry keeps calling us late at night, and he wakes me up. Would you please tell him to stop doing that once and for all?

We usually use this expression to talk about actions that we plan to do in the future in order to fix a situation we don’t like now.

grammatical expression: Don’t get me wrong.

For this week’s grammatical expression I’d like to write about “Don’t get me wrong.” Native English speakers use this when we are talking about something and we think the other person might have gotten a negative impression of us based on what we just said. So, to correct this, we use “Don’t get me wrong.” For example:

My girlfriend really annoys me sometimes! Don’t get me wrong. I love her, but sometimes she’s difficult to be with.

That politician from ABC Party is really dishonest. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all politicians from that party are dishonest, but he certainly is.

I really love to drink. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an alcoholic; I just enjoy drinking.

My job is really bad right now. Don’t get me wrong. I usually really like my work, but right now we’re working on a very difficult project.

So, as you can see from my examples, the person first makes a statement. After that, they say “Don’t get me wrong.” Finally, they make another statement which corrects any bad impression the first statement might have made.

grammatical expression: big time

Today’s expression is one that is often used in casual conversations: “big time”. It is used to emphasize something that we have just said and say that the situation is bigger than someone might think. For example:

After I got married, my life changed big time! Now I can’t go drinking with my friends every weekend.

A: Are your neighbors noisy?

B: Oh yeah! Big time! I’ve complained to my landlord several times about them.

I failed that test big time! I only got 15%!

My brother hasn’t called my mother for a few weeks, and that is really unusual for him. She’s worried about him big time!

So, “big time” basically means “really, really”. So when I say, “My life changed big time!”, I mean, “My life didn’t just change a little, it really, really changed!” Or if I say, “I failed that test big time!”, I mean, “I didn’t just fail that test by a small amount, I really, really failed it!”.

I hope that’s clear to everyone. We only use this expression in casual conversations and, generally speaking, only people in their 40s or younger use it.

grammatical expression: to be a toss-up between…

The grammatical expression for today is to be “a toss-up between” two options. English native speakers use this when we can’t make a choice between two things, people or places. For example:

A: What’s your favorite food?

B: It’s a toss-up between sushi and lasagna. I love them both!


A: What’s the best country you’ve ever been to?

B: It’s a toss-up between Italy and Turkey. They were both so interesting. I can’t choose between them.


A: Who do you think was the world’s most evil dictator?

B: Many people think Hitler was the worst but for me, it’s a toss-up between Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung. Both of them were far worse than Hitler.

My wife and I are trying to decide where to go on our next vacation, but we haven’t made a final decision yet. Right now, it’s a toss-up between France and Spain.

I believe this expression comes from the habit Western people have of tossing a coin in order to make a choice between two things. If the coin is “heads” (the front side), we choose the first option; if the coin is “tails” (the back side), we choose the second option. So, in these cases, it’s like we’re saying I have to toss a coin in order to choose between them because they’re both equal in my opinion.

grammatical expression: as for

Recently I’ve had two students ask me the meaning of “as for” when they were writing business emails, so that’s what I’ll write about today.

We use this expression in a situation in which a person is asking about or talking about more than one thing or person. When we are responding to their inquiry or statement, we use “as for” to talk about the second thing or person. For example:

Thank you for your inquiry about where you can buy our new product and how much it costs. Regarding the location where it can be bought, you can buy it at our store in Upton. As for the price, it costs $125.

A: What are we going to do about the report and the presentation?

B: Well, we can write the report this weekend. As for the presentation, we’ll have to ask Julia to do it for us.


A: We need to buy some milk and bread.

B: I can buy some milk at the supermarket after work. As for bread, I think we have some in the freezer.


A: What do you think about the two candidates for president?

B: I don’t like either of them. Ken Peterson doesn’t seem very honest, and as for Tim Young, he’s just too inexperienced to be a good president.

So, we can use “as for” both in writing, as in the first example, or in conversation, as in the last three examples. In formal writing, we often use “regarding” to talk about the first thing and then we use “as for” for the second thing. We only use “regarding” in very formal situations such as writing an important email or letter.

grammatical expression: last but not least


This week’s grammatical expression is “last but not least”, and we use it when we are introducing the last person or group in a series. It’s like saying, this is the last person or group, but they are not the least important one even though they are last. For example:

Thank you Nancy for your presentation. And last but not least, we have Edward, and he will be giving a presentation about global economics.

There will be three bands playing: First, Drive Shaft will play; then, we will hear a song from The Ravens and, last but not least, The Paper Dolls will play some of their songs.

I ate a lot of great food at the party. I had Bill’s potato salad, Susan’s tomato soup and, last but not least, Artie’s fried chicken. They were all delicious.

We use this expression in order to be polite to the last person or group and not make them feel badly about being last.

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