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    #1

    Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    Hi, teachers:

    I want to know if the following three phrases somewhat old and too formal to use in casual conversations. And especially, are they chiefly used in British English?? I kind of can't think of any American English articles I saw them in.


    do somebody justice
    serve somebody right
    to one's likings
    I heard all these phrases from British TV shows, and most are set in Victorian time or earlier. Honestly I don't quite understand what they mean, even after I looked them up in dictionaries.

    Many thanks in advance.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    do somebody justice (or 'do justice to sb') - current
    serve somebody right - current in the twentieth century, I'd guess, though not for the last few years. Not specifically Victorian, but a bit dated. Nurses (the sort of maidservant who looked after young children - think of Mary Poppins ) used to say 'serves you right' or 'that'll teach you'
    to one's likings - current, but no S (the S might be due to a false analogy with 'by one's lights' (=according to ones beliefs))

    b

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    #3

    Re: Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    That was most helpful. Thank you, Mr. BobK

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    #4

    Re: Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    do somebody justice (or 'do justice to sb') - current
    serve somebody right - current in the twentieth century, I'd guess, though not for the last few years. Not specifically Victorian, but a bit dated. Nurses (the sort of maidservant who looked after young children - think of Mary Poppins ) used to say 'serves you right' or 'that'll teach you'
    to one's likings - current, but no S (the S might be due to a false analogy with 'by one's lights' (=according to ones beliefs))

    b
    All three are still in use in AmE.

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    #5

    Re: Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    As for the "formal" part, it should perhaps be noted that it's not teenage speech.

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    #6

    Re: Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    BobK: serve somebody right - current in the twentieth century, I'd guess, though not for the last few years. Not specifically Victorian, but a bit dated.


    I know that I am sometimes considered old-fashioned, but my offspring are only 31 and 34, and they and their peers still use it in BrE.

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    #7

    Re: Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    BobK: serve somebody right - current in the twentieth century, I'd guess, though not for the last few years. Not specifically Victorian, but a bit dated.


    I know that I am sometimes considered old-fashioned, but my offspring are only 31 and 34, and they and their peers still use it in BrE.
    Oh yes - I do too. But my children are a bit younger than yours - 21 and 26 - and I think that though it's part of their passive vocabulary it's on the way out.

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    #8

    Re: Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Oh yes - I do too. But my children are a bit younger than yours - 21 and 26 - and I think that though it's part of their passive vocabulary it's on the way out.

    b
    Mr. Bob K, by " it's on the way out", do you mean it's turning into their active vocabulary or your children are forgetting the phrase totally??

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    #9

    Re: Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    Quote Originally Posted by pinbong View Post
    Mr. Bob K, by " it's on the way out", do you mean it's turning into their active vocabulary or your children are forgetting the phrase totally??
    It (the use of serve somebody right) is becoming less common, is dying out.

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    #10

    Re: Are these three phrases somewhat old and too formal, and chiefly BrE??

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    It (the use of serve somebody right) is becoming less common, is dying out.
    I agree, but only last night I heard myself muttering "It serves him right" when a soap-opera character found himself in a bad situation.

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