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    #1

    A light bulb goes off

    Quote from 《iGenius: How Steve Jobs Changed the World 》
    A light bulb goes off. And he says, wow, I can put computers on every desktop.
    I guess "A light bulb goes off" means when someone suddenly realizes sth. In this sense ,why not say "A light bulb goes on" instead of "goes off"?
    Thanks.

  1. SlickVic9000's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: A light bulb goes off

    (Not a Teacher)

    The lightbulb is "going off" in the sense of an alarm or buzzer going off. I'm not sure how else to describe it.

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    #3

    Re: A light bulb goes off

    This is the classic symbol of an idea coming to someone - that a light bulb turns on.

    In English, unfortunately, we often say that things that happen suddenly "go off." Like I lit a firecracker and it almost went off in my hand. Or, I was having a nice dream when my alarm clock went off.

    Yes. In English, something like an alarm clock can "go off" when it turns on.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: A light bulb goes off

    Somewhere there are a few threads about how illogical it is to say "an alarm went off" to mean it made a noise.

    It's logical to think that an alarm goes ON to mean it makes a noise and it goes OFF when it's silenced, but no... we say "My alarm didn't go off" to mean it never sounded or "I have to get off the phone -- the fire alarm just went off."

    English is often not very logical.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #5

    Re: A light bulb goes off

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    English is often not very logical.
    Thank goodness. I would have had to work for a living if it had been.

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: A light bulb goes off

    And I'd have to work harder if most people used it well.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #7

    Re: A light bulb goes off

    A house can burn up as it burns down.

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    #8

    Re: A light bulb goes off

    What if I replace "off" with "on", and say" A light bulb goes on. And he says, wow, I can put computers on every desktop." Does it make sense? or does it have any different meaning?

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    #9

    Re: A light bulb goes off

    Same meaning.

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    #10

    Re: A light bulb goes off

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Same meaning.
    English is such an amazing language! On and off can have the same meaning, So can up and down, and maybe so can in and out and so on.

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