On the eve of

“On the eve of” means the night before or shortly before.

Today's story: Djokovic visa
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On the eve of

Today’s English expression is “on the eve of.” Strictly speaking, this means “the night before,” but you can use it more loosely to mean “shortly before.”

At the very beginning of today’s lesson, I said that Novak Djokovic was deported on the eve of the Australian Open tennis tournament. In this case, he left the country late at night on January 16; the first matches were on January 17. So in this case, I was accurate when I said he left on the eve of the tournament. He left the night before the tournament.

However, it is common to use this more loosely. I could also say that a controversy around the tennis star’s visa erupted on the eve of the Australian Open. The controversy didn’t just happen the night before the tournament. It was in the week or two before the tournament. But it was shortly before the tournament. In everyone’s mind, the tournament was coming soon when the controversy erupted, so we can still say the controversy erupted on the eve of the Australian Open.

Prince Philip, the husband of the Queen of England, died in April 2021. His funeral was on April 17, 2021. Boris Johnson is the prime minister of the United Kingdom; his staff held two parties on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral. The parties were the night before the funeral. This is controversial because at the time, indoor parties for mere citizens were banned. However, the prime minister’s staff held two parties on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.

After the words “on the eve of,” you have to put a noun or an event: on the eve of the Australian Open (an event); on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral (an event).

Maybe on a Thursday or a Friday before a long weekend, you got a lot of work assigned to you. In that case, you can say that you got a lot of work assigned to you on the eve of a holiday weekend. The event is the holiday weekend.

The groom backed out on the eve of the wedding. That means the groom—the man who’s getting married—decided not to get married after all, and he made his decision a day or two before the wedding.

You can also use this phrase to look back in time and talk about what things were like before an important event. In 2008, there was a global financial crisis precipitated, in part, by loose lending standards. On the eve of the financial crisis, people in America could get loans for houses even if they didn’t have any money to pay the loans back. I’m looking back on the period shortly before the crisis.

It’s also possible to look forward and speculate that today we are “on the eve of” something that will happen in the near future. For example, every year scientists publish a list of animal species that are on the eve of extinction. That means, they appear to be close to extinction.

I was looking for examples online and found this question: “Is the world on the eve of destruction?” That means, are we in that period right before destruction? I hope not! I think that comes from an old song called “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire.

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote of the week is by the late actor Sidney Poitier. He says, “A person doesn’t have to change who he is to become better.” Sidney Poitier was born in the Bahamas and was one of the only prominent black Hollywood actors in the 1950s and 1960s. He died earlier this year at age 94. You can see him in some classics from that time, including “In the Heat of the Night,” “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” Sidney Poitier again says, “A person doesn’t have to change who he is to become better.”

See you next time!

“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” is a great movie. It was about an interracial marriage at a time when that was still very much a taboo in the U.S. and around the world. The posters from the time called it “a love story for today,” about changing values. It was released in 1967, just six months after America’s Supreme Court struck down laws in 17 states banning interracial marriage.

That’s all for today’s lesson. Congratulations on reaching the end of the audio portion of today’s lesson. I say the “audio portion” because there is so much more to discover online. Plain English Plus+ members have access to a step-by-step video lesson. There are also exercises, quizzes, and more. If you’re not yet a Plus+ member, you can join today by visiting PlainEnglish.com/Plus .

But if that’s not for you…that’s okay. The free audio version will always be here for you, every Monday and Thursday. The next lesson will be this Thursday and it’s about a psychological disorder that, for the first time, is included in the World Health Organization’s manual for diseases and disorders. But not everyone thinks it should qualify. That’s coming on Thursday. See you then.

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Story: Djokovic visa