Sunday, 8 March 2009

Proverb: (You can't) have your cake and eat it

In one of my lessons, one student asked me how to say "when 2 things cannot be done or achieved at the same time" in English proverb. I couldn't remember very clearly and I only know it has a "cake" in it, so I immediately went to do a search, and found,

"(You can't) have your cake and eat it".

Well, finding it was simple, but the pronunciation was something I would like to add a few extra words to it.

Most people, I guess, only read it the usual way, like they read 2 separate sentences, "You can't have your cake" and "eat it". The problem is that the word 'have' isn't really referring to 'possess', but 'eat', just like,

"Did you have your lunch at 1pm?"
"Yes, I had my lunch then."

So when saying this proverb, the correct way putting a stress on the word 'have' by saying,

"You can't HAVE your cake and EAT it".

By putting the stress on 'eat' as well would balance the stresses on the main verbs on both sides, thus conveying better meaning.

Also, not to forget that this proverb is used in suggesting contraditions or giving advice, so your intonation should match the meaning of this wonderful proverb as well.

Speak with accuracy!

Happy Learning!