For good

If a change is made “for good,” that change is permanent.

Today's story: Predictions for 2021
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For good

Today’s English expression is “for good.” And guess what? It doesn’t have anything to do with good or bad.

Earlier in this lesson, you heard that ridership has plummeted on public transit systems in the US and Europe. And I asked, “Is this change for good?”

Now be honest: did you think I was asking, “Is this change a good thing?” That’s not what I meant, because “for good” in this context isn’t about “good” or “bad.” In this context, if a change is “for good,” that change is permanent.

Remember I asked, Will ridership be lower for good, or will it bounce back? Will ridership be lower permanently, or is the decline in ridership just temporary? We still don’t know if this change is for good or not. On the one hand, people might be afraid to pack onto trains and buses. On the other hand, early evidence from Paris and Vienna suggests that when economies open up, people will be willing to take trains and buses again. However, we still don’t know for sure if public transit ridership has declined for good (permanently) or not.

Donald Trump lost the 2020 election in America. Is he gone for good? Is he permanently gone from politics? Maybe he’s gone for good—but I wouldn’t bet on it. An American president can serve for two terms. They don’t have to be consecutive. Trump is eligible to return to the White House in 2024. I think that’s unlikely. But it might be too early to say he’s gone for good. It’s too early to say he’s gone from politics permanently.

One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago is called The Fountainhead—or, I should say, was called The Fountainhead. It closed for good in October. It had a great food menu, a fantastic rooftop patio, always a good beer selection. It was a great place to go on a summer afternoon. But now it’s closed for good. It has closed permanently, as so many restaurants have.

In English, if you can say a restaurant is closed, it’s not always clear—especially these days—if you just mean it’s not open at the moment, or if it has closed for good. A lot of restaurants are closed on Mondays; they’ll open again on Tuesday. Some have closed just for a few months. So I might tell someone, “Did you hear? The Fountainhead is closed.” The other person might reply, “Wait, do you mean it’s closed for good?” The question means, did the restaurant close permanently?

I also mentioned earlier that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is stepping down after the next elections. There is no clear successor, no clear person who will take over after her term ends. But she remains very popular and some people would like for her to continue as leader of Germany’s government. But it’s not to be: Anglea Merkel has promised that she’s retiring for good. That means, she’s retiring permanently. She won’t be taking a quick break and returning later. She’s retiring for good.

Sports stars sometime retire—but then return. A famous football player named Brett Favre retired four times! That means, he retired three times, and three times he came back to the game. When he finally retired for good, he was over 40 years old. That’s old to be on a football field. But he did finally retire permanently—he retired for good—in 2010.

JR’s song of the week

Today’s song of the week is “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by the band Chicago. It’s a sad song about a couple separating. But the words go nice and slow. “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by the band Chicago is the song of the week.

See you next time!

And that’s all for the last lesson of 2020. It was not the year we wanted to have, that’s for sure, but I know a lot of you made some great progress this year in English. I can see it in the forums in Plain English Plus+ and from all the great notes I get from all of you. So, congratulations on the progress you’ve made, and let’s make 2021 even better together! We’ll be here every Monday and Thursday of 2021 to help you reach your goals in English. Happy New Year!

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Story: Predictions for 2021