Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's a long shot

A “long shot” is when you try to do something or guess something that has a very low chance of success because it is difficult or unlikely. If you succeed at a long shot, usually there is a great reward.
Fall for (something):  to easily believe a lie/ to be tricked easily.

1. I don’t have the qualifications for the job, but it wouldn’t hurt to go along to the interview and just try. Who knows - maybe I’ll get lucky. It’s a long shot… but I have nothing to lose anyway.

2. When you go to a casino to gamble, walking away with more money than you brought in is always a long shot, unless you are a professional poker player or something, because the odds (probabilities) are always in the casino’s favor. The odds are always against the gambler.

3. Many people play the lottery with the hopes of becoming an instant millionaire. Of course we all know that it’s a long shot, but we continue to dream anyway. After all, someone has to win eventually, right?

4. For all golf players, a hole-in-one is always a long shot. It happens, but not that often.

5. If you don’t know the answer to a difficult question, you can take a “wild guess” and try to give the correct answer. If it’s a multiple choice question, it’s not such a long shot, because you’ll have a 1 in 4 chance.

6. It was an incredibly long shot for South Africa to try and win the last soccer world cup, but I’ll still keep hoping. Maybe in 2014. Anything is possible.

7. When you know that the answer will probably be “no”, you can say, “It’s a long shot, but I’ll just ask anyway”. Maybe the person will say “yes” and surprise you. 


  1. Sport as a metaphor makes for a lot of good idioms...

  2. Dog as a metaphor also makes for a lot of good idioms...

  3. I've never seen "make for" before... What about a post? =]

    It's been a busy day. That's why I haven't bothered you all day.

  4. I don't think make for in this case is a phrasal verb... in another context, "make for" (as a phrasal verb) would be the same as "go" somewhere.

    In this case, you could substitute "make" with "allow" and say, "allow for". It's probably unusual to those who have never seen it, but it's not a phrasal verb.

    Ex. This book makes for some good reading.

    The preposition is not connected to the verb to modify it. The emphasis is on the verb alone, which although a unique situation, also requires the preposition "for"... just like the preposition on always goes with "Depend"... for example, "It depends on you".

    In Portuguese and Spanish we happen to use the preposition "de", however phrasal verbs do not exist in either Portuguese or Spanish. "Depende de ti/ usted"/ "Depende de você"

  5. I understood it's not a phrasal verb in this case, but the sentence is still unclear to me.

    Don't worry... I'll be fine. =]

    Tomorrow I'll do some searching. See you! Thanks!

  6. In my linguistics class this semester, we were given a "test" how to best distinguish between a phrasal and a prepositional verb: if there is an object, turn it into a pronoun (e.g. him, her, it)
    a) if you can move the pronoun after the verb, then it's a phrasal verb (e.g. to hand IT in; to cheer HER up; to figure IT out etc.)
    b) if the pronoun stays after the preposition, then it's a prepositional verb (e.g. to depend on HER; to rely on HIM; to look for HIM; to run into HER etc.)

  7. Hi lauftammo.

    You are absolutely right about the test to distinguish between a prepositional verb and a phrasal verb.

    Phrasal verbs, linguistically speaking, can get complicated. In ESL/EFL, we distinguish between separable and non-separable phrasal verbs. There are phrasal verbs that cannot be separated, for example, "run into" (in the sense of meeting someone by coincidence). It is most definitely a phrasal verb, since the preposition modifies the verb and gives it a different meaning.

    On the other hand, "run into", (running into a window/ wall) as an accident, could be considered a prepositional verb, because it is the literal meaning, the person is literally running when the accident happens. The meaning of the verb doesn't change. When you meet someone by coincidence at a mall, you are probably walking when you "run into" them.

    There are so many situations to consider in English that sometimes the strict categories/ rules don't apply.

    To simplify matters: (1) if you can separate a verb and preposition, then it is definitely a phrasal verb... (2) If the pronoun goes after the preposition, it could be either a phrasal verb or a prepositional verb, in which case we need to ask whether the preposition modifies the meaning of the verb or not.

    Sometimes trying to merge certain definitions we run into difficulties.

  8. Hi Frank,

    thank you for enlarging upon the distinction between phrasal and prepositional verbs. I find it especially hard to make this distinction if the boundaries dissolve and you can argue for either side.

  9. Exactly like you said... you explained it well. Sometimes boundaries dissolve... and you can get into a debate!
    I'm still thinking about it all...

  10. Hello again Frank.

    In Eastern Europe it's quite a long shot to wait for a lot of snow in winter. However, this year may be considered an exception, since due to low temperatures even the Black Sea has frozen. It's not very snowy outside though.

    Regarding your last point in the explanation, I agree it's better to ask what you want rather than just think what the other person will probably answer you. The better option for you can be a long shot, but "every rejection brings us closer to the goal".

  11. Pluton, what country are you from? I know you speak Russian because you were telling me about the expression where no one steps on a rake twice.

    I've heard that this winter is a winter "from hell". I hope you're not too cold where you are.

    Haha, "every rejection brings us closer to the goal"... I worked for a couple of months at a call center in Costa Rica, so I know what you're talking about.

  12. I'm from Ukraine, and yes, Russian is my native language.

    Well, I've heard that kind of news too, the weather is especially "tough" in Europe. No, it's not very cold outside, most of the people should've already gotten used to the temperature outside. The average is about -15C and has been lasting for two weeks now, and IMHO this is what winter is supposed to be.

    What happened at the call center? :)


  13. Well... at most call centers you have to call people... we called the US to do all kinds of surveys (not as bad as trying to sell stuff) - Political surveys, on behalf of insurance companies, fast food chains etc.

    So as you can imagine, there was a lot of "rejection". You have to convince most people to take a survey.

  14. Going out on a date with that girl is a long shot But I'm gonna ask her out anyway.

  15. Mexico winning this upcoming world cup is a hell of a long shot, LOL