Reverse Expressions

Changing the order of words in a sentence can bring about a whole different meaning.

Take the following expressions: 

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

The first “going” refers to the journey which if it is tough (difficult), can only be survived and endured (they “get going”) by those who are themselves “tough” in nature (strong or hardy). When the “tough get going”, this means they will not be daunted but will rise to the challenge instead.

If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

In this case, the words “fail” and “plan” are both used as verbs but the meaning of the phrase is altered simply by exchanging the placement of the words. “Failing to plan” indicates one who did not do any planning at all. Without any detailed planning or thorough preparation, such a person is bound to fail. In other words, it is as if he planned (or had decided) to fail, right from the very start.

 “The right start is when you start right”.

 By doing the right thing at the beginning, you will ensure yourself success.

Being efficient is doing the thing right,

While being effective is doing the right thing.

Yes, an efficient person makes good and careful use of resources – such as manpower, money, methods, machines and materials – and therefore, ensures that whatever project or programme is planned will be carried out correctly with minimum waste.

Meanwhile, the effective person focuses on the end result, which is the “effect” he wishes to produce. A salesman, for instance, will want to increase sales revenue and he is “effective” when he does this – that is, he has done the right thing!

A teacher answers his student’s questions, but an intelligent student will question his teacher’s answers.

This means that while teachers generally help to answer the questions posed by students, the student who is capable of intelligent thinking will question the teacher if he feels the answer given is not exact or appropriate, or unsuitable. He may even question the answer if he has further queries on the matter or has read something contrary to what the teacher’s given answer is.

Do you see the seed in the apple, or the apple in the seed?

Yes, we all know that apples contain seeds, don’t they? We throw these seeds away without a single thought for their significance. But, if you think about it – isn’t it true that the seed contains the embryo of the apple tree and if you germinate the seed, it will develop into an apple seedling, grow into an apple tree which will, one day, bear apples?

Therefore, it is true that there are apples in every seed! Amazing, isn’t it?

There is a place for every word, and a word for every place.

Even this expression reminds you not to take what you say or write lightly, but to think carefully about what word to use and when. 

If you wish to take to the road, then you must decide what road to take. 

In other words, don’t leave home without knowing where it is that you wish to go to exactly. Or, if you are a student and you wish to study abroad or away from home, don’t just dream of leaving home but do think carefully of what course you would like to take, where it is offered and what it entails to study it.


Some people eat to live, some live to eat.

It makes you laugh, doesn’t it? I have met people who do love their food and live to savour every meal for all that it is worth while others practise discipline and eat only what they really require to be healthy and fit.


Don’t trouble trouble, until trouble troubles you. 

Basically, it means that you should stay out of trouble as much as you can!

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