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The very common fixed figurative expression as ______ as a(n) ___ is often used in informal conversation.Here are two more examples that were not given earlier:

as _____ as a(n) _____ (#6)

as neat as a pin: very neat; very clean and orderly

Lupe must spend a lot of time cleaningher house. It's always as neat as a pin.

as sharp as a tack: very clever; very intelligent(used for people). (Note: Sharp, here, means"quick to understand.")



A: Sandra's son seems very bright.   B: Oh, he is. In fact, he's as sharp as a tackHe gets nothing but A's in school.



 

a general expression withas _____ as a(n) _____

In addition to specific, fixed expressions with as ___ as a(n) _____ , there is also a general expression usedwith many different adjectives:

as _____ as _____ can be

This expression means "very (adjective)," "unusually(adjective)," or "totally (adjective)" and is generallyused to describe people. The adjectives show opinionsor judgments of value:

That baby is unusually cute. /That baby is as cute as cute can be.

Mr. Smith is quite nice. /Mr. Smith is as nice as nice can be.

She was extremely rude. /She was as rude as rude can be.

He's unusually patient. /He's as patient as patient can be.

Kenny is unusually honest. /Kenny is as honest as honest can be.

Susie's children are exceptionally polite.Susie's children are as polite aspolite can be.

These strawberries are unusually sweet. /These strawberries are as sweet assweet can be.

 
 
The very common fixed figurative expression as ______ as a(n) ___ is often used in informal conversation.Here are more examples, comments on meanings, andnotes on how the examples might be used:

as _____ as a(n) _____ (#5)

as tight as the bark on a tree: very conservative inspending money; stingy; miserly. (Bark is the "skin"of a tree; it's connected very tightly to the wood ofthe tree. Tight is slang for "stingy" or "miserly.")

Don't expect Uncle Jim to lend you anymoney. He's as tight as the bark on a tree.

as tough as nails: strong and hardy; able to managedifficult situations with no problems; the opposite offrail or delicate. (used to describe people)

Yes, Juan has had some problems, but youshouldn't worry about him. He'll manageeverything very well because he's as toughas nails.

as tough as shoe leather: very difficult to chew(used to describe food). Note: Shoe leather is thevery strong animal skin used to make leather shoes.



A: How's your steak?   B: Terrible! It's as tough as shoe leatherI can barely cut it and I can't chew it at all!

as ugly as sin: very ugly; very unattractive; homely(used to describe people or things).

Pierre thinks his girlfriend is the mostbeautiful woman in the world. Personally,I think she's as ugly as sin.

You don't reallylike that painting, do you?I think it's as ugly as sin!

as white as a ghost / as white as a sheet: very pale(describes the way people look when they are veryfrightened or shocked).

What happened, Mimi? You're as whiteas a ghost!

Something terrible has happened to Chuck.He's as white as a sheet!

Special Notes



1. Notice that in "as tight as the bark on a tree,"the is used before bark, not a. ("A bark"refers to the sound of a dog.)   2. As tough as nails is unusual because it usesplural noun after as.   3. In as tough as shoe leather and as ugly assin, no article is used before leather or sinbecause they're both uncountable nouns.



to be continued . . . . .

 
 
The very common fixed figurative expression as ______ as a(n) ___ is often used in informal conversation.Here are more examples, comments on meanings, andnotes on how the examples might be used:

as _____ as a(n) _____ (#4)

as right as rain: exactly right; 100% right.



A: Ho-Hyun says that Chicago is the capital ofthe state of Illinois, but I think it's Springfield.

Am I right?

   B: Yes, you're as right as rain. Chicago isthe largest city in Illinois, but Springfieldis the state capital.

as snug as a bug in a rug: very comfortable; cozy



A: I think this probably wasn't a very good dayto go camping because it's going to get prettycold tonight. Is your tent going to be warmenough for you?   B: Yes. I'll be as snug as a bug in a rug whenI get into my sleeping bag.

as sound as a dollar: financially stable; financiallydependable; a good value

You don't need to worry about investingin the XYZ Corporation. It's an old companyand it's as sound as a dollar.

as strong as an ox: very strong; unusually strong

If you need help moving the furniture,ask my friend Antonio to help you. He'sa very nice guy and he's also as strongas an ox.

as thin as a broomstick: very thin; unusually thin(used to describe people). Note: a broomstick is thehandle of a broom. If a person were this thin, he / shewould be extremely thin.

Fred and his wife are an odd couple.Fred is quite heavy, but his wife isas thin as a broomstick.

as thin as a rail: also very thin; unusually thin(used to describe people). Note: a rail is a thinpiece of wood used to make part of a fence.If a person were this thin, he / she would beextremely thin.

Haven't you been eating? You've reallylost a lot of weight. In fact, you're as thinas a rail!

Special Note

There is no article before rain in as right as rain becauserain is an uncountable noun.



to be continued . . . . .

 
 
The very common fixed figurative expression as ______ as a(n) ___ is often used in informal conversation.Here are more examples, comments on meanings, andnotes on how the examples might be used:

as _____ as a(n) _____ (#3)

as heavy as a ton of bricks: very heavy. (A ton is2,000 pounds--which is very heavy.)

What do you have in your suitcase?It's as heavy as a ton of bricks! I canbarely lift it!

as light as a feather: very light. (A single featherusually weighs almost nothing.)

When Bobby was younger, he was as lightas a feather and I could lift him with noproblems at all. As he's grown older andgrown bigger, however, that's all changed.Now I can't lift him at all!

as poor as a church mouse: very poor; having noextra money at all.

Please don't ask Tony to donate any money.He's a very generous fellow, but he's alsoas poor as a church mouse and reallydoesn't have any money to spare.

as quick as a wink: very quickly; taking almostno time. ("Wink" means to close one eye very quickly.)

Could you help me move this chair?I know you don't have much time,but I promise that we'll be finishedas quick as a wink.

as quiet as a mouse: very quiet.

Yes, you can study with me in my room,but you'll have to be as quiet as a mouse.I have to study, too, and I won't be ableto concentrate if there's very much noise.

as rare as hen's teeth: very rare. (describes somethingthat is very unlikely to happen)

In Phoenix, Arizona it almost never snowsduring the winter. Snow in Phoenix is asrare as hen's teeth.



to be continued . . . . .



 
 
The very common fixed figurative expression as ______ as a(n) ___ is often used in informal conversation.Here are more examples, comments on meanings, andnotes on how the examples might be used:

as _____ as a(n) _____ (#2)

as drunk as a skunk: very intoxicated.

X embarrassed himself and everyone elseat the party because he was drunk as askunk when he arrived.

as easy as pie: very easy; requiring little effort.



 A: Was the test difficult? B: Certainly not. In fact, it wasas easy as pie.

as fit as a fiddle: very healthy; very fit; in goodphysical condition.

I know X was in the hospital for a longtime, but there's nothing wrong with himnow. He's as fit as a fiddle.



as good as gold: valuable and very useful; dependable,reputable, kind, and having high moral standards.(When "as good as gold" is used for things, it refers toa high of value and usefulness. When "as good as gold"is used for people, it refers to someone who is dependable,reputable, and kind, and who has high moral standards.

This concert ticket is as good as gold.If you can't go to the concert, you cansell it to someone for a high price.

We're very glad we hired Wanda. She'sa very hard and conscientious worker.We'd recommend her to anyone. She'sas good as gold.



as happy as a lark: very happy; enjoying somethingvery much.

Gina's son really loves to read. If he hasa new book, he's as happy as a lark.



as hard as a rock: very hard; rigid. ("As hard asa rock" describes the feeling of something that ismuch harder than expected.

This mattress is not very comfortable.Actually, it's as hard as a rock.

Wow! His stomach muscles are reallydeveloped! In fact, they're as hard asa rock.



Special Notes:



1. There is no article (a or an) before "pie"in "as easy as pie."   2. Because gold is uncountable, there is alsono article before it in "as good as gold."



to be continued . . . . .

 
 
Like all languages, English is sometimes factual andeasy to understand. However, it can also be used increative and imaginative ways that are often difficultto translate and understand. Sometimes these creativeuses of English (or any language) occur in fixed(unchanging) expressions.

One very common fixed figurative expression inEnglish is the "formula" as ___ as a(n) ___ . Variations on this "formula" are often heard inconversation. (They're used only in informal writing.)

Here are some examples, comments on their meaning,and examples of how they might be used:

as _____ as a(n) _____ (#1)

as big as a barn: very big (usually used in a negativeway to describe a person who is very fat).

X has really gained a lot of weight lately.She's as big as a barn.

as cool as a cucumber: very calm--especially insituations in which others would be very nervous.

Most people were really nervous when theybegan their speeches, but Chuck wasn't.He was as cool as a cucumber.

as clumsy as a bull in a china shop: very clumsy;totally without grace; very uncoordinated. (Describessomeone who is so clumsy that he or she is likely tobreak things unintentionally).

Don't use your best crystal when Elsie comesfor dinner. She's as clumsy as a bull ina china shop and would probably dropsomething and break it.

as cunning as a fox: "Cunning," here, means cleverat deceiving others.

Yes, the supervisor is very pleased withthe new clerk's performance and says he'sa superior worker. Personally, I think thenew clerk has fooled the supervisor and isn'tas clever as the supervisor thinks. I'd saythe new clerk is as cunning as a fox.

as crazy as a loon: crazy; unpredictable; displayingirrational or unbelievable speech or behavior.

Don't believe everything that Dr. Phelpstells you. He's brilliant, but he's alsoas crazy as a loon. Many of his ideasare just fantasies.

as dead as a door nail: completely dead. (Can be usedfor objects as well as formerly-living things.)

There's definitely something wrong with thephone. When I pick up the receiver, I hearnothing. There's no dial tone. It's as deadas a door nail.



to be continued . . . . .

 

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