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  1. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #1

    a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    I like the following verse and I sometimes use it when teaching students grammar. I remember reading somewhere that some of the words in bold have been invented by the author, while other words are used in everyday speech. Is it so? Could you please tell me which words are not used and which are used today (and give some examples/a little context, if possible)?

    "I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have been, by far. For a might-have been has never been, but a has was once an are." -Milton Berle


    1) a could-be - He is a could be ....???
    2) an are
    3) a maybe
    4) a has-been
    5) a might-have been
    Last edited by englishhobby; 10-Sep-2014 at 15:42.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    A has-been is somebody who is over the hill. He might have been successful at something at one time (maybe very much so), but he doesn't have it anymore. The rest are made up expressions.


  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    A "could-be" or a "maybe" is someone who had the potential to do something. "An are" is someone who is actually doing it. A "has-been" is someone who did something once; a "might have been" is someone who never did anything.

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    #4

    Re: a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    A has-been is somebody who is over the hill. He might have been successful at something at one time (maybe very much so), but he doesn't have it anymore. The rest are made up expressions.

    A British magazine described a politician as a former has-been, which is a wonderful phrase.

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    #5

    Re: a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, EnglishHobby:


    I thought that you'd like this term that is occasionally used to insult someone:


    Mona: Was James once someone important? In other words, is he a has been?

    Joe: Are you kidding? James is a never was.




    James


    P.S. Since you are a teacher, when you get time, you may want to check the Web for something called nonce words.

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    #6

    Re: a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    There are also "wannabes," those who imitate a successful person (they "want to be" them).

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    'Has-been' is the only commonly-used term from the original post in my experience. I agree with post#2.

  5. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    P.S. Since you are a teacher, when you get time, you may want to check the Web for something called nonce words.
    Thank you, it's a very interesting term and I will surely need it when introducing the above verse to students.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    A British magazine described a politician as a former has-been, which is a wonderful phrase.
    Could it get any worse than to be a former has-been?


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    #10

    Re: a could-be, an are, a maybe, a has-been, a might-have been

    Someone may come up with a phrase, but I haven't seen one to rival it yet.

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