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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.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The icing on the cake

Context #1

Dear Diary,

I just started at my new school and I'm very excited! All of my teachers are excellent, the school is in a wonderful location, my schedule is great, AND one of my classmates is really cute. The classes are pretty small, too, so I know I'll be partnering with him on projects and exercises. I know I'm here to study so I won't let him distract me from that. He's just the icing on the cake! Can't wait for school tomorrow!

Context #2

Lena: How's your new job, Sandra?

Sandra: I love it! It's a great company.

Lena: Is the pay good? Are you making more than at your last job?

Sandra: Oh, yes! Much more! But that's just the icing on the cake. We're given tons of perks like fully-covered health insurance, an office gym, and a free healthy lunch catered on site every Friday. There are also lots of opportunities to move up as the company grows into other markets. I'm really excited about it!

Lena: Wow! That sounds amazing. Are they still hiring?

Explanation: The icing on the cake is used to talk about an additional, but non-essential, part of something that is already quite good. It makes a good thing even better.

In Example 1, the student is writing in her diary about her new school. Her new school is good in many ways AND there's a cute boy in her class. The cute boy is not necessary but makes a good thing even better. 

In Example 2, Sandra has a great new job. There are many perks and opportunities for growth which makes the job great. She says the great pay is an extra thing to make the job better.

use the BE verb with this expression

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