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Thursday, April 27, 2017

You can't teach an old dog new tricks

Idiom: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks -  You cannot make people change their habits or character; it is very difficult to change the way a person does something when they have been doing it the same way for many years

Context #1 
Students are in English class

Terry: Hi, Sal. What’s wrong?
Sal: Oh, hi Terry. I’m just really tired. I’ve been trying to show my grandpa how to use his new smartphone, but he is really being stubborn.
Terry: What do you mean? Smartphones are great!
Sal: Well, he wants to return his smartphone for an old-fashioned flip phone. He says that he cannot even use the smartphone. It’s too hard!
Terry: Well, he is not used to that new technology, so it’s all probably confusing for him. You should probably just let him get an older phone he knows how to use.
Sal: I guess you’re right. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!
Terry: Yes. He will be much happier with a phone he actually knows how to use.

Context #2 
Two friends talking about fitness

Sara:  I’m so tired!!
Pat: Why? You aren’t working full-time right now.
Sara: Well, my fitness coach told me that I should start getting up really early around 6 AM. He told me I would feel much better and get more things done.
Pat: What time do you usually get up?
Sara: 10 AM or so. I’m a night person. I love staying up late!
Pat: Well, if you are used to getting up at 10 AM, I don’t think you are going to be able to get up at 6 AM every day, especially right away.
Sara: I guess you are right. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Perhaps I’ll compromise and get up at 9:30 AM instead!

Meaning: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” means that you cannot make people change established habits of behavior or character. In Context 1, Sal’s grandpa cannot use a smartphone, no matter how much Sal tries to teach him. In Context 2, Sara thinks she can start getting up much earlier than she is used to getting up. In both contexts, it is too difficult to change their habits. 

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  1. Thanks for sharing a great American idiom with us, dear Michelle ... We love you ...
    Shouldn't the name SaraH be spelled with an H at end, though?

    Your Russian fans

    1. Dear, Russian Students

      As you must know, Sara is a proper name. By definition: a word or group of words that is the name of a particular person, place, or thing and that usually begins with a capital letter, for example, parents can give their child a name or a scientist can give an element a name. So, there's no misspelling in the proper name "Sara". Thank you! Have a wonderful day ;-)

    2. Got that ... Thanks a whole lot for clearing up the issue ...

      So next time we go to Noo York we are sure to visit Brewklyn :)))

      We love you ...

      Your Russian fans

    3. You're very welcomed, dear Russian Students. Actually, the concept is completely different "Noo York" and "Brewklyn" are slangs not proper names! Stay tuned on the definition, folks! ;-)