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Is the aforementioned idiom used in daily life, and can it be used in a formal writing?
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Hi Zerox,

Yes, this idiom is used in 'street English', although it isn't what I'd call 'very common' with only seven matches in the British National Corpus. It's considered colloquial, so I wouldn't use it in formal writing.

Englishuser
EnglishuserHi Zerox,

Yes, this idiom is used in 'street English', although it isn't what I'd call 'very common' with only seven matches in the British National Corpus. It's considered colloquial, so I wouldn't use it in formal writing.

Englishuser

I found more than 200,000 hits on Google, but we must remember two things about that collection: 1) many hits are duplicates; 2) many sources are not necessarily what we would call "good writing". I agree that it is colloquial, and I wouldn't use it in formal writing.
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Hi Philip,

You wrote:
I found more than 200,000 hits on Google, but we must remember two things about that collection: 1) many hits are duplicates; 2) many sources are not necessarily what we would call "good writing".

This is why I avoid using the Google as a corpus: Some of the hits you get there simply aren't worth a bean. Sometimes the Google is helpful when you want to know how common a certain phrase or idiom is, but you should always take a look at what kind of hits you actually get before making any further conclusions. And, of course, those of us who live in English-speaking countries could think of how often we use/encounter a particular idiom in spoken and written English in our everyday lives if that is what the asker wants to know.

Englishuser

However, it IS used in spoken English where I live. Frequently.

I agree that Google is hardly reliable for knowing proper grammar, etc., etc., but when you see 200,000 references to it, you know it's being used "somewhere." (Again, Google isn't a good check for formal writing, of course, as 1.6 million hits of "Me and * went" demonstrates.)
Hi,

I say and hear it reasonably commonly, so I consider it nothing unusual as informal English.

Best wishes, Clive
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Do cows have a poor sense of direction or they live their nocturnal lives?
I am wondering where this phrase comes from.
I guess the reason is much simpler: they move very slowly.
Hi,

I think the traditional way of farming, at least on British farms, involves the cows going into the field in the morning and 'coming home' from the field to the barn (the 'byre') in the evening.

Consider this opening to the famous poem by Thomas Gray.

"ELEGY WRITTEN IN
A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD"

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.


In this, the cows and the ploughman are going home in the evening.

Best wishes, Clive
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