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Dr Klaus Bung
68 Brantfell Road
Blackburn BB1-8DL


© 2012 Klaus Bung

Teachers tell you WHAT to learn, IDYLL (R) shows you HOW to learn it.

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Klaus Bung:
What's in store for me tonight?

"tonight" is a strange expression in English because it usually means "in the evening" and not "during the night". "What's in store" usually means "what is going to happen" and not "What goods are in stock in a certain shop". This essay explores, with the help of many examples, how these expressions are used and discusses many other English idioms besides.

Read more ...

2012-02-10 What's in store for me tonight?


Not tonight, Josephine

Whatever will be, will be: Doris Day

God willing: Insha Allah

Sometimes even great Homer nods


Lovers' nights: West Side Story

Sweet Jessica: Merchant of Venice

"Tonight" in the present as opposed to the future

"Tonight": Examples from English literature

In store for you

Something else

Figurative usage (non-literal usage) of "something else"

Literary examples of "in store"

It is not yet near day: Romeo and Juliet

Not tonight, Josephine

I don't have a crystal ball and therefore I can not tell the future. I am not a prophet, therefore I cannot predict your profits or mine.

According to legend, not much was in store for Josephine, wife of Napoleon, when she was in a tender or lusty mood but was brushed aside by her battle-weary husband with the infamous words "Not tonight, Josephine". But if that answer was de rigeur in Napoleon's household, it would account for the fact that she did not bear him any children. Napoleon didn't see it that way. Like far too many English teenagers today, he didn't understand the relationship between sex and babies and divorced Josephine in 1810 for being infertile. (She had children in later marriages, so what was wrong with Napoléon?)

Josephine had more excitement in her life than she had bargained for (several husbands, imprisonment, French revolution, then rise to be Empress of France, then divorce, ...)

Whatever will be, will be

So she could well have sung the song made famous by Doris Day

"When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty, will I be rich
Here's what she said to me.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be."

Here are the complete lyrics, and here you can hear it sung by Doris Day.

God willing

What will be, will be:This being the case, the Holy Qur'an admonishes us, never to say unconditionally, "Tonight or tomorrow we shall do this or that" but always to add a cautious and respectful "Insha Allah" (if God permits) to any statement we make about the future: "And never say of anything, 'I shall do such and such thing tomorrow, except by adding, 'If God wills!' And remember your Lord when you forget...' " (Surat Al Kahf 18:24)

The same is customary in most or all European languages (and others), e.g.

  • "God willing" (= If God is willing), example: "God willing we will move into our new house next year",
  • "Deo volente" (Latin: If God will),
  • "So Gott will" (German),
  • "Si Dios quiere" (Spanish),
  • "Se Deus quiser" (Portuguese), etc,
  • and, last but not least, in India: "Ishvara anugraha" (Sanskrit).

It is highly probable that the sun will rise again tomorrow, but we cannot be absolutely sure. A consistent record of the past does not guarantee the future.

The injunction for Muslims to qualify their plans and promises with "Insha Allah" comes from the Holy Qur'an. The Christian injunction comes from the Bible (New Testament, Letter of St James / Jacobus, ch 4:15): "Well, you who say: 'Today or tomorrow we shall go into this or that town and will stay there for a year and trade and make money,' you do not know what shall be tomorrow. For what is your life? It is like steam, which lasts for a short while and then disappears. Therefore you should say: 'If the Lord will and we live, we will do this and that.' " (Jacobus 4:13-15)

Sometimes even great Homer nods

Even great people occasionally make mistakes. Even the Pope is not always infallible but only in precisely defined conditions. Even your parents, even great leaders, even successful businessmen, and even I, occasionally make mistakes. When you observe such a mistake, you can say, with a forgiving smile: "Sometimes even great Homer nods" (ie falls asleep for a few seconds while working and therefore picking the wrong word, using a wrong spelling, or getting a story wrong).

Homer was the great Greek poet, highly respected by the ancient Greeks, and many of the ancient stories preserved and re-used in classical literatures all over Europe were transmitted to us through Homer's Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

If even great Homer, with his reputation of never making mistakes, does make a mistake, then, a fortiori, I can be forgiven for making a mistakes.

This also goes for native speakers of a language. They also make mistakes. But their mistakes are different from those which foreigners make.


In an English language forum a native contributor confidently claimed:
" 'Tonight' can mean any time in the afternoon, or later. Usually, it means 'at night', but it can be afternoon, or very early morning before the sun comes up."

This is partly correct, partly incorrect and partly misleading.

'tonight' never means 'in the afternoon'.

Let's establish when the afternoon starts and when it ends and whether "tonight" can refer to that period of time.

The afternoon starts at 12.00h. At 11.55h people still say "Good morning", but at 12.01h they say "Good afternoon". Sometimes, if they are not sure whether the time is before or after 12h, they pass a little jocular remark about it.

The afternoon is followed by the evening. One can argue about the exact time when the evening starts, but 18.00h is a good guess (rule of thumb). So, as from 18.00h you could safely greet people with "Good evening". You can safely continue to do so until midnight (24.00h).

It is absolutely wrong to call the time from 12 o'clock noon to 18 hours "tonight".

Before people retire to go to bed, they say "Good night". This can be any time between 18h and midnight, or even later for a late worker. It is more likely to happen as from 21h, when children should go to bed. But if a person is absolutely exhausted and perhaps also unwell and therefore decides to go to bed immediately after arriving home, e.g. at 18.30h, you will wish her "Good night" before she goes to sleep. So, "night" is essentially sleeping time and time of darkness.

If somebody visits me at 22h, I will greet him with "Good evening", but if my daughter goes to bed at the same time, I will send her to bed with "Good night". So "Good night" is, like "Good bye", something that tends to be used when parting, whereas "Good evening", like "good morning" and "good afternoon" tends to be used as a greeting when receiving somebody, or in passing (e.g. in the street).

When the visitor whom I received with "Good evening" at 22.00h leaves at 22.05h, I will wish him "Good night" because I know that I will not see him again until he has had at least one night's sleep.

After midnight I will greet people in the street with "Good morning" (if I think they are night workers), but with "Good night" if I think they are on their way home and then to bed.

The time "before the sun comes up", i.e. immediately before sunrise, can NOT always be referred to as "tonight". The exact expression to use depends not only on the time referred to but also on the time when the remark is made.

First of all, let us fix "sunrise" in terms of the clock. It can be as early as 4.00h and as late as 7.00h. So for the purposes of this discussion assume that it is 4.00h. Then it will be easier for you to understand the examples.

If NOW it is afternoon (e.g. 15.00h) and you make an appointment for 4.00h, you can NOT say: "We will meet at 4 o'clock tonight."

But you can say:

  • We will meet at four in the morning.
  • We will meet at the crack of dawn.
  • Let's meet at sunrise.
  • I prefer to meditate before sunrise; it is a very quiet time.
  • I must say my prayers before sunrise.
  • I must finish eating before sunrise.

I am not sure whether two policemen patrolling the ice and snow covered streets in December at 4.00h could say to each other: "Jesus, it's effing cold tonight!", but I think they can; because they are saying it about the present. They are *** in *** that night. We will investigate this further when looking at examples from English literature (below).

Remember the ambiguity of the element (morpheme) "night" in "tonight". It can have two meanings, depending on context, and sometimes the two meanings can merge with each other, i.e. it is difficult to say which of the two is the exact meaning:

  • Meaning 1: tonight = in the evening of this day
  • Meaning 2: tonight = during the night (when the night has already started)

Lovers' nights

Let us turn to the lyrics of the famous song from West Side Story: "Tonight, tonight"

I do not know West Side Story well and do not know whether the protagonists sing this song before or after midnight. If after midnight, it would tally with the example of the policemen. They can say "tonight" because they are right now in the middle of that night.

In both examples "tonight" refers to the present, it means "now". So IF the use of "tonight" is permissable, it is only permissible in the present,

"tonight" is not permissible when referring in advance to the hours between midnight and 4.00h. If you say "c u 2nite" (LOL) it can not possibly mean "See you after midnight", it must mean "See you between 18h and 24h."

Sweet Jessica

Talking of romantic encounters during the night, I should make you aware of another piece of delicious English poetry. These are the sweet whisperings of two illicit lovers (a Jewish girl, Jessica, and a Christian boy, Lorenzo) during a warm moon-lit Mediterranean night.

Let me explain in advance what the boy says about Troilus. Then it will be easier for you to figure out the ancient Shakespearean English. "Troilus climbed on the city walls of the city of Troy in order to look at the tents of the Greek army (the Grecian tents). His soul sighed when he saw the tents in which Cressida, his girlfriend, was sleeping."

Here are a few words that will help you with the second section of this speech:

  • quiring = singing (cf choir)
  • cherubins = angels
  • doth = does
  • patine = disc
  • methinks = I think, I believe
  • become = are suitable for

And now the text itself. Memorise it and imagine yourself in his or her position.

The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
And they did make no noise, in such a night
Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls
And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressid lay that night.


How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.

(Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice, Act 5, Scene 1).

Unfortunately the word "tonight" does not occur in this passage (I was looking for it). Instead, Shakespeare writes: "In such a night like this".

Such text is sometimes difficult to read, it contains some rare words and some old-fashioned grammar and allusions to ancient stories. But it is worth deciphering and studying. Eventually, if not immediately, you will enjoy the beauty of such lines. It is worthwhile exploring English language and culture in full and becoming educated in it, even for a foreigner. Eventually you will want to enjoy what educated English people enjoy and not only rise to the intellectual level of a football fan.

The level of the football fan is a start. But you have to aim, and climb, higher. Otherwise you will not be a master of English. It is not enough if you learn only to buy a glass of bear or a train ticket. You will start to enjoy English when you have really MASTERED it.

"Tonight" in the present as opposed to the future

As a rule of thumb (an approximate rule), you can say that what happens in the evening of the same day happens "tonight". Let's say that "evening" is from 6 p.m. to midnight.

When looking into the future, what happens after midnight is NOT "tonight", but you could say "during the night"; e.g.

"The BBC will broadcast a symphony by Brahms during the night",

i.e. sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. If it is due to happen near 4 or 5 a.m., you could say: "in the early morning hours" or "at the crack of dawn".

If, for example, now is 4 p.m. and the Brahms piece is scheduled for 3 a.m., you can never say: " We can hear Brahms tonight".

If the evening has already started (i.e. "tonight" is present), you could say: "It's nice and warm tonight, isn't it.", or: "It feel so tired tonight, I think I'll go to bed early."

Remember: "tonight" is an idiomatic English way of saying "this evening". "This evening" is grammatically correct, but idiomatically almost wrong (i.e. questionable = almost wrong).

"Tonight": Examples from English literature

You can now see how English writers use the word "tonight" in context. Observe carefully whether the same passage contains other reference to time of day which help you to interpret the meaning of "tonight" more exactly: tonight, last night, tomorrow night, in the evening, during the night, etc.

Compare what you find in the examples with the theory presented above and see whether theory and examples tally.

Some of these passages may also whet your appetite and tempt you to read the books from which they were taken. That would be great fun for you and very useful.

He paused, and captain and mate looked despair at each other.

"But I will tell you what you can do. The breeze will freshen *** tonight around midnight *** — see those tails of clouds and that thickness to windward, beyond the point there? That's where she'll come from, out of the southeast, hard. It is three hundred miles to Mangareva. Square away for it. There is a beautiful bed for your ship there."

The mate shook his head.

(Jack London (1876-1916): South Sea Tales)

McCoy measured the distance of the land away, and nodded.

"Yes, it is six now. I won't get ashore till nine. The people cannot be assembled earlier than ten. As the breeze freshens up *** tonight, *** you can begin to work up against it, and pick me up *** at daylight tomorrow morning.*** "

(Jack London (1876-1916): South Sea Tales)

"We must take our chance," said Grief. "***Tonight*** I shall go after water with Mautau. *** Tomorrow night ***, Brother, you will go with Tehaa."

(Jack London (1876-1916): A Son of the Sun)

"Don't you know it's very, very wicked to play on Sunday? What d'you suppose it's called the day of rest for? You're going to church *** tonight ***, and how can you face your Maker when you've been breaking one of His laws *** in the afternoon***?"

(Somerset Maugham (1874-1965): Of Human Bondage)


  • Contrast between "tonight" and "in the afternoon"
  • Your Maker = God
  • meet your Maker = die
  • the day of rest = Sunday
  • the Lord's Day = God's day = Sunday

"I don't wish you to go to church *** tonight ***, Philip. I don't think you're in a proper frame of mind to enter the House of God."

Philip did not say a word. He felt it was a deep humiliation that was placed upon him, and his cheeks reddened. He stood silently watching his uncle put on his broad hat and his voluminous cloak. Mrs. Carey as usual went to the door to see him off. Then she turned to Philip.

"Never mind, Philip, you won't be a naughty boy next Sunday, will you, and then your uncle will take you to church with him in the evening."

(Somerset Maugham (1874-1965): Of Human Bondage)

Note: the House of God = the church

"I have had a letter from your uncle, Cacilie. You are to pack your things *** tonight ***, and we will put you in the train *** tomorrow morning ***. He will meet you himself in Berlin at the Central Bahnhof."

(Somerset Maugham (1874-1965): Of Human Bondage)

"I'm awfully sorry," she said, with an expression on her face of real distress. "I shan't be able to come *** tonight *** after all."

"Why?" said Philip.

"Don't look so stern about it," she laughed. "It's not my fault. My aunt was taken ill *** last night *** , and it's the girl's *** night out *** so I must go and sit with her. She can't be left alone, can she?"

(Somerset Maugham (1874-1965): Of Human Bondage)


  • "night" here meanins "evening".
  • "last night" = evening of the previous day.
  • "the girl's night out" is the evening (not the night after midnight), once every week, when the maid (house keeper) does not have to work but can go out with her friends to amuse herself.

"I say don't let's waste this beautiful day in looking for rooms. I'll put you up *** tonight ***. You can look for rooms tomorrow or Monday."

(Somerset Maugham (1874-1965): Of Human Bondage)

"Ah, Dad," he said, *** "tonight's the night! Tonight's some night, *** Dad.—You can sleep any time—" his grin widened—"but there aren't many nights to sit here—like this—Eh?"

D H Lawrence (1885-1930): Aaron's Rod


  • "night" here means "evening", i.e. the time after the fall of darkness and before midnight. It does not mean the dark hours after midnight (or the sleeping hours) which are normally referred to as "night".
  • "some night" = a very special night, here: a very special evening

It was near midnight. She went along the passage and to his room. There was a faint light from the moon outside. She listened at his door. Then she softly opened and entered. The room was faintly dark. She heard a movement on the bed.

'Are you asleep?' she said softly, advancing to the side of the bed.

'Are you asleep?' she repeated gently, as she stood at the side of the bed. And she reached her hand in the darkness to touch his forehead. Delicately, her fingers met the nose and the eyebrows, she laid her fine, delicate hand on his brow. It seemed fresh and smooth—very fresh and smooth. A sort of surprise stirred her, in her entranced state. But it could not waken her. Gently, she leaned over the bed and stirred her fingers over the low-growing hair on his brow.

'Can't you sleep *** tonight *** ?' she said.

There was a quick stirring in the bed. 'Yes, I can,' a voice answered.

(D H Lawrence (1885-1930): England, my England)

Notes: 'Can't you sleep tonight?' This conversation takes place just before midnight. The same words could have been used AFTER midnight, e.g. at 3.00h. This is one of the occasions when "tonight" can be used to refer to a time between midnight and sunrise. It is used in the present. Perhaps we can generalise that "tonight" can be used to refer to the time after midnight when it is used in the the present, but not when it is used in the future.

Therefore, "I shall bring you your medicine tonight" (future) will refer to a time before midnight. If 3.00h is meant, one would say: "I shall bring you your medicine during the night."

'Well, then,' she coaxed, in a cold, almost sneering propitiation, 'put your coat on and go where you're wanted—be a man, not a brute of a German.'

She had drawn quite near to him, in her challenging coaxing intentness.
He looked down at her with his bewitched face.

'No, I shan't,' he said. 'I shan't do no such thing. You'll put me up for *** tonight ***.'

'Shall I!' she cried. And suddenly she flung her arms round him, hung on to him with all her powerful weight, calling to the soldiers: 'Get the rope, boys, and fasten him up. Alfred—John, quick now—'

The man reared, looked round with maddened eyes, and heaved his powerful body. But the woman was powerful also, and very heavy, and was clenched with the determination of death.

(D H Lawrence (1885-1930): England, my England)

Note: In this case "tonight" refers not only to the evening but to the whole night. "put me up" = "let me sleep in your house". However, the reference to the "evening" is still stronger than the reference to the "night" because the decision where to sleep, whether to go home or not, is made in the evening. As a result the guest may then spend the whole night in the friend's house.

'You'll have to be getting ready, Fanny,' said Mrs. Goodall.

'I'm not going *** tonight ***,' said Fanny abruptly. And there was a sudden halt in the family. 'I'll stop with you *** tonight ***, Mother,' she added.

(D H Lawrence (1885-1930): England, my England)

Note: Like in the previous case "tonight" here refers to staying overnight. It includes the evening and the night that follows.

"I shall have to stay with Madame *** tonight ***," she explained hurriedly. "She's feverish, but she may throw it off if we can get her into a sweat."

(D H Lawrence (1885-1930): The Lost Girl)

Note: "tonight" here means "overnight", i.e. including the hours after midnight.

"Give this letter to Madame," Alvina said to Ciccio. "I shall be at the hall *** by seven tonight ***. I shall go straight there."

(D H Lawrence (1885-1930): The Lost Girl)

Note: "by seven tonight" = "no later than seven tonight" = "by 7 p.m." = "by 19 hours". p.m. = post meridiem = after mid-day = after 12 o'clock noon

"a.m." denotes the hours before noon (12 o'clock, lunch time). "a.m." stands for "ante meridiem" = "before mid-day".

I prefer the 24-hour clock, which is less prone to misunderstanding, and use it deliberately, even at the risk of upsetting people who prefer the more homely and traditional a.m./p.m. system.
1 p.m. = 13 hours (one in the afternoon, in daylight)
1 a.m. = 1 hours (one hour after midnight)
11 a.m. = 11 hours (one hour before noon, one hour before lunch time)

"Selim," said the host, "these two gentlemen are staying with me *** tonight ***. Send up the very best wine and dinner at once. And Selim, one of these gentlemen will probably die tomorrow. Make arrangements, please."

(G K Chesterton (1874-1936): The Ball and the Cross)

Note: "tonight" here means not only the evening, but that the guests will be spending the whole night at this house.

Conclusion: The "night" in "tonight" sometimes means "evening only" and sometimes "evening and subsequent night".

"I will speak to him *** tonight ***," Schomberg said to himself, while he drank his morning tea, in pyjamas, on the veranda, before the rising sun had topped the trees of the compound, and while the undried dew still lay silvery on the grass, sparkled on the blossoms of the central flower-bed, and darkened the yellow gravel of the drive. "That's what I'll do. I won't keep out of sight *** tonight ***. I shall come out and catch him as he goes to bed carrying the cash-box."

(Joseph Conrad (1857-1924): Victory)

Ricardo plumped himself down cross-legged on the floor, very close to the low bedstead; so that Mr. Jones—who perhaps had not been so very profoundly asleep—on opening his eyes found them conveniently levelled at the face of his secretary.

"Eh? What is it you say? No sleep for you *** tonight ***? But why can't you let me sleep? Confound your fussiness!"

"Because that there fellow can't sleep—that's why. Dash me if he hasn't been doing a think just now! What business has he to think *** in the middle of the night ***?"

"How do you know?"

"He was out, sir—up in the middle of the night. My own eyes saw it."

"But how do you know that he was up to think?" inquired Mr. Jones. "It might have been anything—toothache, for instance. And you may have dreamed it for all I know. Didn't you try to sleep?"

(Joseph Conrad (1857-1924): Victory)

Note: "tonight" here means the whole night, sleeping time.

It was a lucky recollection, all her good spirits were restored by it. "It is charming weather for THEM indeed," she continued, as she sat down to the breakfast table with a happy countenance. "How much they must enjoy it! But" (with a little return of anxiety) "it cannot be expected to last long. At this time of the year, and after such a series of rain, we shall certainly have very little more of it. Frosts will soon set in, and in all probability with severity. In another day or two perhaps; this extreme mildness can hardly last longer—nay, perhaps it may freeze *** tonight ***!"

(Jane Austen (1775-1817): Sense and Sensibility)

Note: "tonight" here means not only "during the evening" but "during the night".

Afterward they sat down upon the floor together, Sara clasping her knees with her arms, and Ermengarde rolled up in her shawl. Ermengarde looked at the odd, big-eyed little face adoringly.

"I couldn't bear it any more," she said. "I dare say you could live without me, Sara; but I couldn't live without you. I was nearly DEAD. So *** tonight ***, when I was crying under the bedclothes, I thought all at once of creeping up here and just begging you to let us be friends again."

(Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924): A Little Princess)

Note: I presume this is also in the middle of the night, after midnight.

"I did not expect to see you *** tonight ***, Ermie," Sara said. Ermengarde hugged herself in the red shawl.

"Miss Amelia has gone out to *** spend the night *** with her old aunt," she explained. "No one else ever comes and looks into the bedrooms after we are in bed. I could stay here *** until morning *** if I wanted to."

(Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924): A Little Princess)

Note: "tonight" here = "this evening"

Throwing the balance to the ground he curled up in a convenient crotch and sought slumber; but slumber seemed difficult to woo. Ordinarily Tarzan of the Apes was asleep as quickly as a dog after it curls itself upon a hearthrug before a roaring blaze; but *** tonight *** he squirmed and twisted, for at the pit of his stomach was a peculiar feeling that resembled nothing more closely than an attempt upon the part of the fragments of elephant meat reposing there to come out into the night and search for their elephant; but Tarzan was adamant. He gritted his teeth and held them back. He was not to be robbed of his meal after waiting so long to obtain it.

(Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950): Jungle Tales of Tarzan)

Note: "tonight" here = "during the night", not "in the evening"

"Good bye, Morison," she cried. "If God is good I shall be dead *** before morning ***, for if I still live I shall be worse than dead after *** tonight ***."

(Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950): Son of Tarzan)

In store for you

A TV announcer said: "Let's see what BBC TV has *** in store for you *** over the Christmas holidays", what films etc have been prepared for you, are on the programme lists, are waiting to be broadcast, are ready and waiting for you, like books in a library or goods in a shop.

"in store for you", might refer to storage, but it might be derived from "the store" (= the shop).

It does not only refer to TV schedules but is used more widely. It can be paraphrased usually by "what you can expect to happen". It is sometimes used in a threatening way, i.e. you can expect something bad to happen.

  • "If you do not pay the money you owe me by the end of the week, I have something very unpleasant in store for you" (e.g. I will send some gangsters to smash your effing face).
  • "He walked into the meeting with a big smile on his face, sure that he would be promoted. The poor guy didn't realise what was in store for him: he lost his bloody job."
  • "Shut up now, man, and do as I tell you, or there will be something else in store for you." (i.e. something unpleasant will happen).

Something else

The phrase "something else" has literal meanings and figurative (non-literal) meanings.

Literally and normally, "something else" means (1) "something different" or (2) "something additional". Examples:

(1) Mary goes to the chemist (British English for pharmacist) and asks for a pain killer. She is offered Paracetamol. But she wants something stronger. She says: "Can you give me something else? Paracetamol is not strong enough, my feet are killing me, my children are a pain in the neck, my husband is a pain in the arse, and my mother-in-law is driving me round the bend." So she wants something different, something instead.


  • "are killing me" = are very painful
  • "John is a pain in the neck" = John is annoying me intensely, he is nothing but trouble. "a pain in the arse" is a vulgar alternative to "a pain in the neck"
  • "George is driving me mad" = George is so annoying that I could become insane (mad, demented) any minute. Instead of "driving me mad" you could say jocularly "driving me round the bend" (like you drive a car round the bend). Making a person insance has, of course, nothing to do with driving a car on the road and round the bend; that makes this expression utterly absurd and therefore funny. You could also say: "He is driving me up the wall."

(2) Mary goes to a sports shop and buys a crash helmet to go with her motorcycle. She is about to walk away through the door, when she suddenly turns back: "There is something else I wanted. Do you have boxing gloves in stock? I need them tonight when my boyfriend comes to visit me." So she wants something in addition to what she had first bought.


When you ask in England whether a shop has a certain item, e.g. Aspirin, you can ask (1) "Do you stock Aspirin?" or (2) "Do you have Aspirin in stock?"

Note You must say, at least in England, "in stock" and not "in store".

What is the difference between (1) and (2)?

The reply to (1) might be:

(a) "Yes, we do. Wait, I'll get you some."

(b) "No, we don't stock Aspirin or any medical products. You will get them at the chemist's across the road."

(c) "Yes, we do stock Aspirin. But we are temporarily out of stock. You'll have to grin and bear it, and come back tomorrow. You can have a bucketful of Aspirins then. Wash them down with two bottles of whiskey. That will cure you of headaches for ever. You will have no more headaches for as long as you live."

The reply to (2) might be: "Sorry, Aspirin is temporarily out of stock. We are expecting another delivery tomorrow."

Figurative usage (non-literal usage) of "something else"

In the sentence "Shut up now, man, and do as I tell you, or there will be something else in store for you." (i.e. something unpleasant will happen), "something else" is used figuratively, i.e. not literally. It means more than the words say.

In this case it is an understatement for something awful. In certain contexts it could also mean something funny, or unusual.

Example: "Well, I met Mary's new boyfriend yesterday, and I must tell you, he is something else." (i.e. there is something unconventional, or funny, or unpleasant, or surprising, etc, about him).

Literary examples of "in store"

Here are some literary examples of "in store":

Often "in store" simply refers to the future in general. Note also the examples where there is explicit reference to Fate in the same quotation, or to Providence (a word sometimes used for God, who is omniscient = knows everything, can see into the future; Latin: pro-videre = look forward)

"Antonio, you are welcome;
And I have better news *** in store *** for you
Than you expect: unseal this letter soon;
There you shall find three of your argosies
Are richly come to harbour suddenly."

(William Shakespeare (1564-1616): Merchant of Venice)

Note: argosies = ships

"Now, Cinna; now, Metellus; what, Trebonius,
I have an hour's talk *** in store *** for you;
Remember that you call on me today;
Be near me, that I may remember you."

(William Shakespeare (1564-1616): Julius Caesar)

Note: I have an hour's talk *** in store *** for you = I have to talk to you for one hour. A one-hour meeting is on my to-do list.

"It was well to have a comfort *** in store *** on Harriet's behalf, though it might be wise to let the fancy touch it seldom; for evil in that quarter was at hand."

(Jane Austen (1775-1817): Emma)

"There I stood, for minutes, looking at Joe, already at work with a glow of health and strength upon his face that made it show as if the bright sun of the life *** in store *** for him were shining on it."

(Charles Dickens (1812-1870): Great Expectations)

"But Little Dorrit's solicitude to get to her father, and to carry the joyful tidings to him, and not to leave him in his jail a moment with this happiness *** in store *** for him and still unknown to him, did more for her speedy restoration than all the skill and attention on earth could have done." (Charles Dickens (1812-1870): Little Dorrit)

Note: tidings = news

"... the happy life that was *** in store *** for me."

(Charles Dickens (1812-1870): Bleak House)

"'The prospect before you,' answered Rose, firmly, 'is a brilliant one. All the honours to which great talents and powerful connections can help men in public life, are *** in store *** for you."

(Charles Dickens (1812-1870): Oliver Twist)

"When Martha heard this, Martha quite understood the extent of the good fortune that was *** in store *** for Dorothy. If Mr. Gibson was to be welcomed in that way, it could only be in preparation of his becoming one of the family."

(Anthony Trollope (1815-1882): He Knew he was Right)

"... and his wish now was to break away from the pair and undergo in his Barchester lodgings whatever Fate had *** in store *** for him."

(Anthony Trollope (1815-1882): Barchester Towers)

Note: Fate (and elsewhere Providence) are repeatedly mentioned explicitly in connection with "in store". fate = qisma (Arabic), qesmat (Persian), kismet (Turkish, Urdu-Hindi). "fate" comes from Latin "fatum" = "that which has been spoken" (e.g. by an oracle). A Hindi proverb says: "On every grain of rice is written the name of the person who is destined to eat it."

‘“Huntingdon, I am not a castaway!” said he, seizing my hand and squeezing it like a vice. “There is happiness *** in store *** for me yet—even in this life—she loves me!”

(Anne Brontë (1820-1849): The Tenant of Wildfell Hall)

Note: "in store" here, and often elsewhere, equals "fate".

"Remember you are not yet nineteen, and many years are yet to pass before any one can set you down as an old maid: you cannot tell what Providence may have *** in store *** for you."

(Anne Brontë (1820-1849): The Tenant of Wilfell Hall)

Note: Providence (the one who looks into the future, who knows the future) = God. What God has "in store" for you (stored up for you, waiting for your future) is your fate.

"We loaded, therefore, and half an hour before sunset found ourselves in more congenial society. To my great disappointment, a stir was observable in the Caravan. I at once understood that another night-march was *** in store *** for us."

(Richard Burton (1821-1890): Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medinah)

"It was evening before we left the island of the penguins. As we had made up our minds to encamp for the night on a small island whereon grew a few cocoa-nut trees, which was about two miles off, we lay-to our oars with some energy. But a danger was *** in store *** for us which we had not anticipated."

(R M Ballantyne (1825-1894): The Coral Island)

"Arthur, I feel that public disgrace is *** in store *** for me. I feel certain of it. I never knew what terror was before. I know it now. It is as if a hand of ice were laid upon one’s heart. It is as if one’s heart were beating itself to death in some empty hollow."

(Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): An Ideal Husband)

"I did not care what disgrace or punishment was *** in store *** for me, I only thought you loved me still."

(Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): An Ideal Husband)

"That is good news indeed, Gerald. It means a very brilliant future *** in store *** for you. Your dear mother will be delighted."

(Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): A Woman of No Importance)

"You don't know what a treat is *** in store *** for you."

(Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): A Woman of No Importance)

"Weary? I tell you I'm sick of it! If I had only known what was *** in store *** for me before I had made such a fool of myself!"

(F Anstey (1856-1934): Vice Versa)

"He sits down at the end of the writing table nearest the sideboard like a man resigned to anything that fate may have *** in store *** for him".

(George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950): Misalliance)

Note: fate

"They are shaping policies and modifying laws, and they will certainly be responsible for a large proportion of the wars, hardships, and cruelties the immediate future holds *** in store *** for our earth."

(H G Wells (1866-1946): A Modern Utopia)

"It is not the first warning we have had. It has been raining warnings upon us; never was a slacking, dull people so liberally served with warnings of what was *** in store *** for them. But this event—this foreigner-invented, foreigner-built, foreigner-steered thing, taking our silver streak as a bird soars across a rivulet—puts the case dramatically."

(H G Wells (1866-1946): An Englishman Looks at the World)

"Philip thought of the life which had been ** in store *** for her, the bearing of children, the dreary fight with poverty, the youth broken by toil and deprivation into a slatternly middle age ..."

(Somerset Maugham (1874-1965): Of Human Bondage).

Note: "in store" simply refers to our fate, to what is written about our future.

"D'Arnot wondered what fate lay *** in store *** for him now. He could neither see nor hear any signs of life about him."

(Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950): Tarzan of the Apes)

It is not yet near day

This essay has been concerned with time, time of day and how to refer to different times of day, and the uncertainty about what life (or our friends and enemies) have in store for us.

So let us conclude yet again with a famous passage by Shakespeare.

The two immortal lovers, Romeo and Juliet do not have watches or alarm clocks as we have today. They have to know the time from listening to the birds and watching the first signs of the approaching sun at the horizon. Since they are preoccupied with each other, they have not listened properly to the birds (or the cock crowing) and they have not watched the horizon.

The girl wants the boy to stay. But the boy is afraid that the girl's father will catch him and kill him. They have heard a bird. That should tell them the time. Is it still "tonight"? Or is it now the crack of dawn?

If this bird was a nightingale, it is still "tonight". This nightingale sings every night on the pomegranate tree outside Juliet's window. If this was the nightingale, Romeo can stay a little longer. Juliet tries to persuade him that this is the case.

But Romeo thinks that the bird they have heard is the lark. The lark sings just before sunrise. Then the servants will wake up. Juliet's old nurse will come into her bedroom to wake her. And what if she finds her darling Juliet in the arms of her boyfriend! It doesn't bear thinking of.

Romeo had better climb down from his girlfriend's balcony. For, by God, if her father catches him with his daughter, he will have *** something else in store for him ***. None of the three will be over the moon, which is an idiom and an understatement into the bargain.


  • "into the bargain" = as well
  • I am over the moon. = I am very happy.
  • wilt thou = will you
  • thine = thy = your
  • yon = yonder = over there
  • morn = morning
  • the severing clouds = the clouds which are being parted (by the rays of the sun)
  • jocund = cheerful, optimistic
  • the candles of the night = the stars

Before you try to decipher Shakespeare's original text, I will give you the argument in modern language. Compare the modern version with Shakespeare. I think Shakespeare sounds much better. :-) It is worth making the effort of learning his language. You don't have to be a native speaker to enjoy Shakespeare. Be brave and have a go.

Juliet says: Do not yet go. It is only evening. The bird you heard was the nightingale, which sings in the evening and not in the morning.

Romeo replies: No, the bird which we heard was the lark. The lark announces the arrival of the morning (morn). You can see the rising sun colour, and part, the clouds in the east. The cheerful (jocund) young day is standing like a young boy or girl on the mountain tops. I must go immediately. Then I can continue to live. But if I stay, your father or your brothers will kill me?

Have you ever been in Romeo's (or Juliet's) situation? Then you will understand how the two lovers feel.

Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.

It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.

(Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5)

Teachers tell you WHAT to learn, IDYLL (R) shows you HOW to learn it.