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A Piece of Cake & Back to Square One

This lesson is a part of an audio course English Phrases and Idioms by Robert Davey

Hello and welcome to lesson 4 of the 'English Phrases and Idioms' course. In this lesson, we will be looking at the origin and meaning of 'A Piece of Cake & Back to Square One.'

– The first phrase is 'A Piece of Cake.' Well, I know what a piece of cake is, but I guess this phrase is not about food.

– Yes, we're not actually talking about some delicious cake with this phrase. It's a phrase that originally comes from the USA and dates back to about the 1930s. Cakes, and pies, have long been used as a symbol of something easy. We have another, similar, common phrase, 'As Easy as Pie.'

So when we say it is 'A Piece of Cake,' it generally means something is easy to do or accomplish.

– Then learning English is not a piece of cake!

– I agree, but it gets easier the more you practice. An example of how we use this phrase could be, 'Don't worry, Sophie, this job interview will be a piece of cake; you are the best candidate and have all the skills you need for the job.' Or 'Some people think it is difficult but for me, riding a horse is a piece of cake.'

Our second phrase for today is, 'Back to Square One.' Now, this is a relatively recent phrase that started being used in the 1950s. It comes from playing board games like Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders. If you land on the wrong square, then you have to face a penalty or go backwards.

– So, if you are unlucky, you go back to square one?

– Exactly. When we use this phrase now, we mean to say, go back to the beginning and start again. For example, 'the business idea failed completely, so we are going back to square one,' or 'An earthquake destroyed out a construction project, so we are back to square one.'

So listener, do you find learning English a piece of cake? And when something isn't working, sometimes it's best to go back to square one.

This is the end of lesson 4 of the 'English Phrases and Idioms' course.

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Written by

Robert Davey

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