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  1. Newbie
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    Killing two birds with one stone

    Dear all,

    during my research, I came to this sentence, a famous english proverb: "Killing two birds with one stone".
    How should I do the syntactic analysis? Is it a noun phrase? If so, is "killing" the head?

    Many thanks in advance.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    Retired English Teacher
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    Re: Killing two birds with one stone

    It's an idiom rather than a proverb, and 'kill' is a verb; in the third example below it's a gerund.

    When he did that, he killed two bird with one stone.
    If he gets rid of his arch enemy and gets her job, he'll be killing two birds with one stone.

    Killing two birds with one stone is always satisfying.

  3. VIP Member
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    Re: Killing two birds with one stone

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    It's an idiom rather than a proverb

    Thank you very much for teaching me that. Those two words always confuse me.



    My dear fellow learners,

    I have found a book in Google "books" that explains the difference, and I wanted to share its ideas with you. I hope that I understood the book correctly.


    (1) The words do not reflect the literal (actual) meanings of the words.

    (a) I guess it means that you canNOT literally (really) kill two birds with one stone.

    (2) You can often change the tense:

    We will kill two birds ....
    We killed two birds ....


    (3) It is more "frozen."

    (a) I guess that it means you may NOT change the tense.

    (b) It is often literal. That is, it can really mean what it says. For example,

    "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." That is, if you eat an apple a day,

    you may not get sick. (Because apples reportedly contain some good vitamins.)

    (c) A proverb is usually a complete sentence.

    Credit: Lexicographic Description of English (1986) by Morton and Evelyn Benson.

    P.S. I forgot to report something else that Mr. and Mts. Benson said:

    A proverb often reflects folk wisdom or an alleged general truth.

    I think that it means a proverb often expresses an idea about life or how to live life.

    "Folk wisdom" refers to the wisdom (the understanding of how to live life correctly)

    that human beings have learned during the thousands of years

    that they have been on this planet.
    Last edited by TheParser; 07-Feb-2012 at 14:58.

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