This is not a time to quail

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Boris Tatarenko

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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.:roll:

If it's necessary
here you can find the aforementioned piece of news.
 

Raymott

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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/?search=Ecclesiastes 3&version=NIV

And here's a rather beautiful song version by The Byrds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKP4cfU28vM
 
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Skrej

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

Now is the time to strike.
Now's the time to panic.
 

Tdol

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And Mr Johnson does like a rhetorical flourish.
 

emsr2d2

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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!)
 
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