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  1. #1
    alpacinoutd is offline Key Member
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    To be terrible at something

    Hello.

    I want to say I'm really terrible at something or I can't do it. Can I use "can't do...to save my life"? How common is it? Do people actually say it?

    Have I used it correctly and naturally in these sentences?
    1. I can't wake up early to save my life.
    2. I can't swim to save my life.
    3. I can't learn grammar to save my life
    4. I was very shy when I was in school. I couldn't make friends to save my life.
    5. I really hate Indian food. I can't eat Indian food to save my life.
    6. When I was in school, I couldn't cheat in exams to save my life.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: To be terrible at something

    It's fine to use it like that. I wouldn't say that is particularly common, possibly because we have many ways to express the idea.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 26-Oct-2020 at 18:43. Reason: Fixed typo

  3. #3
    tedmc is offline VIP Member
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    Re: To be terrible at something

    I think this other phrase is more common, and means the same thing:

    For the life of me
    , ...
    Last edited by Tdol; 26-Oct-2020 at 14:26. Reason: mean -> means
    I am not a teacher or a native speaker.

  4. #4
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Charlie Bernstein is online now VIP Member
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    Re: To be terrible at something

    Quote Originally Posted by tedmc View Post
    I think this other phrase is more common, to mean the same thing:

    For the life of me
    , ...
    They're both common but have slightly different uses, which can overlap.

    We usually use to save my life the way Al did: To express total inability to do something ever.

    We usually use for the life of me for more immediate problems, often involving forgetfulness:

    - I can't remember her phone number for the life of me.

    - For the life of me, I don't know where I put that recipe.

    But you're right, they're interchangeable.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  5. #5
    Piscean is online now VIP Member
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    Re: To be terrible at something

    Quote Originally Posted by tedmc View Post
    I think this other phrase is more common, and means the same thing:
    Typo.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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