Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: light

Type: Article

Tim Bowen is here to help you see idioms in a different light.

Previously, there seemed to be no end to the financial problems besetting many of the world’s major economies but some economists are now saying they can see light at the end of the tunnel or light on the horizon, meaning there will be an improvement but it is still some way off. Perhaps if economists saw things in a different light (in a different way), in a more positive or favourable light and not always in a negative light, things might take a turn for the better.

The expression in the light of means ‘as a result of a particular fact’, as in ‘In the light of new forensic evidence, police have decided to re-open the case’, and if facts are brought to light or come to light, people find out about them, as in ‘New evidence in this case has recently come to light’. 

If you see the light, you either suddenly realize, understand or appreciate something, as in ‘I used to hate camping but now I’ve seen the light’ or you suddenly start to have strong religious beliefs, as in ‘Peter has seen the light’.

If something such as an idea or a plan sees the light of day, it comes into existence, as in ‘The project first saw the light of day back in 1998’.

If, when referring to someone, you say that the lights are on but there’s no-one at home, you either mean that they are stupid or that they are not listening.

Finally, if you see something in the cold light of day, you think about it calmly and clearly without the emotion that was present when it happened.

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