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  1. Boris Tatarenko's Avatar
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    #1

    This is not a time to quail

    Hello,

    I've just read a news report about Boris Johnson and his decision not to run for Prime Minister on NYtimes.com. I cannot understand why Mr. Johnson said "a time to quail" with an indefinite article, he's a native speaker of English though. As far as I remember, we normally do not use any articles in situations like this one:

    This is not a time to quail, it is not a crisis, nor should we see it as an excuse for wobbling or self-doubt. But it is a moment for hope and ambition for Britain — a time not to fight against the tide of history but to take that tide at the flood, and sail on to fortune.”

    As a learner I can say that a normal pattern (at least what is stuck in my head): it's time to do something (It's time to panic! it's time to win the game, it's not time to quail)

    Could you kindly help me to figure out why Mr. Johnson said it this way because I'm quite confused.

    If it's necessary
    here you can find the aforementioned piece of news.
    Please, correct all my mistakes. I should know English perfectly and if you show me my mistakes I will achieve my dream a little bit faster. A lot of thanks.

    Not a teacher nor a native speaker.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: This is not a time to quail

    It's quite normal. Have you read Ecclesiastes (a book in the Bible)?

    Ecclesiastes 3:...
    There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:


    2 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    6 a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    8 a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.


    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage...03&version=NIV

    And here's a rather beautiful song version by The Byrds
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKP4cfU28vM
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 30-Jun-2016 at 18:15.

  3. Piscean's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: This is not a time to quail

    Quote Originally Posted by Boris Tatarenko View Post
    he's a native speaker of English
    Quite and, though it may seem hard to believe at times, a well-educated one. He may sometimes say the most absurd things, but the language he uses is standard educated English.

  4. Skrej's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: This is not a time to quail

    You'll see this pattern with the definite article as well.

    Now is the time to strike.
    Now's the time to panic.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

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    #5

    Re: This is not a time to quail

    And Mr Johnson does like a rhetorical flourish.

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: This is not a time to quail

    Not as much as he likes to play the political equivalent of Knock Down Ginger.

    (I was going to say my post was off-topic but since it's actually the topic of the original piece, I think I'm OK!)
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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