Okay, welcome to the everyday language podcast, I’m Mark, in Akita. Today’s episode is about the idiom “be cruel to be kind”.
Hmm, so, do you know what cruel is? To be cruel is to be mean. You know, to be very horrible to somebody.
So, we’re saying, to be kind to be very nice to somebody you’ve got to be very horrible to somebody first?
Well this idiom “be cruel to be kind” is often used when, when you’re trying to give somebody some direct advice. Some very, hmm, how shall I say? Some very direct, very truthful, and realistic [advice].
So it may be difficult for the person who is receiving the advice to hear. You know, if you give someone, some advice to improve, but you don’t tell them what they need to improve, you know, you avoid hurting their feelings, by just saying nice things about their ability.
You know, you’re being too nice. But being cruel to be kind is telling that person their weaknesses. “You know, you need to improve this: A, B and C.”
For example, if you’re learning a language and your teacher says, you need to improve your pronunciation of these sounds, like “th” sounds or the “j” sounds. A student might find that difficult to hear.
But at the same time, the teacher needs to tell the student that. Otherwise, the student may not notice themselves and may not improve.
So giving that kind of direct and very precise advice, or suggestions it’s often called “being cruel to be kind”.
You know, it’s pointing out someone’s weakness, or how they’re doing something wrong. In order for that person to later improve and to get better.
Okay, so, “to be cruel to be kind”, have you ever had to be cruel to be kind in your own life? Have you told someone a very truthful thing that they found very difficult to hear? If so let me know in the comments section below, and, you know, that’s today’s idiom “be cruel to be kind”
Okay, thanks again, and I’ll see you next time, bye!
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