Search This Blog


Thursday, June 1, 2017

In vain

Context #1: 

Mike: Have you heard from Richard? It's been a while since I've talked to him.

Bryan: No, I can't get a hold of him. I've even tried getting in touch with his mother. She's also tried in vain for the last 2 days. I hope he's OK.

Mike: That's really weird, but I'm sure he's fine. Let me know if you hear anything.

Bryan: For sure

Context #2

Tom: Hey, Stan! How are you? Wow! What happened to your leg?!

Stan: Hey, Tom. I had a bike accident and broke my ankle. It happened about 2 weeks ago. I have to stay off of it for at least another month. 

Tom: Oh what a bummer! So that means you won't be running the marathon next week then. That's terrible. You've been training for months!

Stan: I know. The last 6 months of training were all in vain! The only good thing about this is that I'm finally forced to relax and rest. I'll get back on the road once it heals.


In vain is used when something is done without success; it's almost considered a waste of time/effort. 

In example 1, Richard's mother tried without success to get in touch with him.  
In example 2, Stan's training was wasted because of his injury.

This expression can be used with a verb: verb + in vain
She tried in vain to call Richard.

This expression can be used with nouns: noun + be + in vain
All of Stan's training was in vain.

Visit our website:


  1. Thanks a lot for sharing ... Can't wait for more ...

    Can we also say 'to no avail' to convey the same idea?

    Keep up the good work.

    Russian ESL students