To fight tooth and nail


2019-07-08 00:00

Summary

Rob’s not happy – his local cafe is changing the food it serves. He’s determined to get them to change their mind. When you are determined to get what you want, this English phrase might come in useful. Find out more about it in The English We Speak. 

Transcript  

Feifei
Hello, this The English We Speak. I’m Feifei…

Rob
…and hello, I’m Rob.

Feifei
You’re looking a bit angry, Rob.

Rob
Yes, I am. I’m really angry. I’ve just heard some bad news. 

Feifei
Oh no. What’s happened?

Rob
It’s the cafe I go to. They’ve decided to become a vegan cafe – no more meat. Where am I going to buy my bacon sandwich from now?!

Feifei
There could be worse things to get angry about.

Rob
Really? I don’t think so. I’m going to fight tooth and nail to get them to change their mind.

Feifei
Ooo, that sounds painful – protesting with your teeth and nails.

Rob
Of course not, Feifei. When you fight tooth and nail for something, you use a lot of effort and determination to get something you want. You can also do it to stop something happening too.

Feifei
But it’s an odd phrase, Rob?

Rob
Yes, it’s a very old English phrase, and basically means to use everything you have available to get the outcome you want.

Feifei
Even your teeth and nails?! Well, let’s hear some examples of people fighting tooth and nail…

Examples
We’re going to fight tooth and nail to stop them building a new motorway going right past our house.

After fighting tooth and nail, I finally managed to get the pay rise I felt I deserved.

My football team needs to fight tooth and nail to stay in the top division. They have to win today’s match!

Feifei
You’re listening to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English, and we’re talking about the phrase ‘to fight tooth and nail’, which means to you use all your effort and determination to get something you want or to stop something from happening. And Rob, that’s what you’re going to do to stop your favourite cafe from serving vegan food.

Rob
Not exactly – they can sell vegan food, but I want them to carry on selling bacon sandwiches – I love them. That’s what I’m fighting tooth and nail for.

Feifei
Yes I know. Well it can’t be a vegan cafe if it sells bacon.

Rob
Right, well I’m going to organise a petition to get bacon back – do you want to sign it?

Feifei
No I don’t – but Rob, have you seen this leaflet I was given? It says ‘50 percent off all vegan food this week’. And guess what? It’s at your favourite cafe.

Rob
50 percent discount you say – hmmm, maybe I should try some vegan food.

Feifei
Yes, try a beetroot hummus sandwich – far healthier and less fattening, Rob.

Rob
Thanks! I will. Bye.

Feifei
Goodbye.