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General Writing and Grammar Help/usage of the expression "all-nighter"

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Question
Dear Ted,
I'm not sure if I'm using the expressions "pull an all-nighter" and "burn the midnight oil"correctly in the following sentences. In other words, are the following sentences grammatically correct and do they make sense?
1. I pulled an all-nighter playing computer games.
2. I pulled an all-nighter watching DVD's.
3. I burned the midnight oil playing computer games.
4. I burned the midnight oil watching DVD's.

Answer
Dear Glen:

I'm not sure if I'm using the expressions "pull an all-nighter" and "burn the
midnight oil"correctly in the following sentences. In other words, are the
following sentences grammatically correct and do they make sense?
1. I pulled an all-nighter playing computer games.
2. I pulled an all-nighter watching DVD's.
3. I burned the midnight oil playing computer games.
4. I burned the midnight oil watching DVD's.

*** The two phrases mean the same thing, but they are used to describe actions that SHOULD have been done much sooner.  They do not generally apply to recreational activities such as playing game or watching DVDs.  Instead of saying "I pulled an all-nighter playing video games, you should say "I wasted the entire night playing video games."

Use these two phrases in association with WORK that you should have done earlier than the "night before."

EXAMPLES:

In order to finish my research project that was due this morning, I had to pull an all-nighter.

I got far behind in studying for the final exam, so the night before the exam, I really had to burn the midnight oil.

Both phrases should be used in connection to completing a task that has a due date, and that due date is usually the "day after the night before."  In other words, you waited until the last minute to begin or to complete your WORK.

I suppose that some people would use the phrases to refer to recreation activities, but they would be incorrect.  For instance, "burning the midnight oil" refers to hard work and NOT to watching movies or playing game.

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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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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

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