Have your cake and eat it!

Is Jen being rude to Li, or does this idiom have a different meaning to what she first thinks? Let’s find out!

Jen: Hi! I’m Jen. And here’s Li.

Li: (Sighing) Hi.

Jen: You seem in a bad mood, what’s wrong?

Li: Take a look at this brochure.

Jen: (Reading) “Golden palm beach, Barbados. This resort boasts miles of unspoiled beaches, crystal blue waters and five star accommodation…” Is this where you’re going on holiday, Li?

Li: Yes, I just booked it.

Jen: Well, you don’t sound very happy about it, what’s the problem?

Li: Well, it cost me £5,000!

Jen: That’s a lot of money.

Li: I know, and I wanted to save my money so that I could get my bathroom decorated.

Jen: Why did you book a holiday, then?!

Li: I have to go on holiday – I haven’t had a break for two years!

Jen: Well, that’s ok, you’ve booked it now!

Li: But I really need to get the bathroom done too!

Jen: Well, you can’t have your cake and eat it, Li!

Li: What do you mean? How did you know I had cake today? Are you calling me fat?! Do you think I should stop eating cake?!

Jen: Whoa! No, no, I’m not saying anything-

Li: Then why do you want me to stop eating cake?!

Jen: Calm down. I said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it.” We use this phrase in English to mean that you can’t have something both ways.

Li: Oh. So you mean I can’t spend my money and save it at the same time?

Jen: Exactly. Let’s hear some more examples:

  • He’s just got married, but he misses the single life. Well it’s too bad – you can’t have your cake and eat it!
  • I drank a whole bottle of champagne at the party last night, but now I feel sick – I’ve got the worst hangover ever. But I suppose you can’t have your cake and eat it!

Li: The second example is good – you can’t expect to drink a lot of alcohol without feeling the effects the next day: you can’t have it both ways; you can’t have your cake and eat it.

Jen: And you can’t have your lovely holiday without spending a lot of money on it.

Li: I suppose you’re right.

Jen: All this talk of cake has got my stomach rumbling, I feel really hungry now.

Li: There’s a new cafe across the road which is selling little cupcakes, they look really delicious! We could go and get some after the programme?

Jen: I would love to, but I can’t, I want to save my money to go out to dinner tonight.

Li: Oh well Jen, you can’t have your cake and eat it. I’ll just get one for myself!

from BBC Learning English

Maria Scalici


Would you like to learn Italian, English or Spanish language? Follow me! :-)

One Response to Have your cake and eat it!

  1. AC says:

    Very nice tale!
    Great job Maria! Your blog is so cute!


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