You are here:

General Writing and Grammar Help/Usage of the expression "out of the woods"

Advertisement


Question
Dear Ted,
I know there is an expression "be out of the woods", which means to no longer be in danger or difficulty. Can you also say "in the woods", to mean that someone is still in danger or difficulty? In other words, do the following sentences make sense?
1. I'm still in the woods.
2. I'm in the woods.

Answer
Dear Glen:

I know there is an expression "be out of the woods", which means to no longer be
in danger or difficulty. Can you also say "in the woods", to mean that someone
is still in danger or difficulty? In other words, do the following sentences
make sense?
1. I'm still in the woods.
2. I'm in the woods.

*** Yes, you can use both of these sentences.  And, if you want to say that we have nearly solved our problem OR we are almost "in the clear," you can say, "We are almost out of the woods."  You can also say, "We are not YET out of the woods, but we are almost there."

"In the clear" is the opposite of "in the woods."  Imagine that when you leave the forest, you suddenly come upon a clear field or meadow."  You are no long surrounded by trees, but you are in an open space.

Ted  

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

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

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.