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General Writing and Grammar Help/"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime"

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Question
Dear Ted,
What is the meaning of the idiom "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime"?

Answer
Dear Glen:

What is the meaning of the idiom "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;
teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime"?

*** The words are called an "adage," a wise saying.  They are NOT an "idiom."  This saying appears in many languages, but, I believe its origin is Chinese.

It means that "giving," while good to do, does not last forever.  If I give a person a few dollars for food, he will be able to buy a meal or two.

Teaching a person a skill so that he can earn his own money will have lifetime benefits.  My gift to a beggar will last a short time.  However, if I teach the beggar a skill or a trade, he will find employment to earn money for food.  THAT skill will last him all his life.

Ted  

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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