T-learning # Idiom
Speak Like a Native

to be between a rock and a hard place

Click below to listen to the phrase.

Choose the correct definition : a, b or c.

a) to be in a very difficult position

Well done ! That’s the right answer.

The expression ’between a rock and a hard place’ is used to say that someone is in a very difficult position, facing a hard decision.

French translation

être entre le marteau et l’enclume, avoir à choisir entre la peste et le choléra

How NOT to translate : *être entre un rocher et un endroit dur


Examples in context

’NHS bosses in Hull facing £22m financial black hole

Hospital bosses are facing a financial black hole of almost £22m as the NHS battles increasing patient demand and the need to transform services.

Recommending the operating plan is approved, with the concerns noted, trust chairman Mike Ramsden said : "We are between a rock and a hard place. It is a legitimate question over the organisation and the board’s credibility.

If we haven’t got a plan, the powers-that-be would rightly question where we are at."

The Hull Daily Mail, 2nd May 2015


’DJIA : Stuck Between A Rock And A Hard Place

The US stock markets are a touch lower today, extending their declines from the day before. Overall, there is no strong sense of conviction from traders to commit in one or the other direction at this stage and the major indices are correspondingly trading in ranges.

As things stand though, sentiment does appear to be moderately bearish. This is understandable following the recent soft patch in US data and raised concerns about Greece, among other things.’

Daily Forex Technicials, 7th May 2015


Everyday usage

Maria was stuck between a rock and a hard place, she did not know whether to move to the finance department or not.

Schools for problem kids are between a rock and a hard place - they can be sued if children run away and get hurt, but have no power to keep the door locked.

b) to be changing rapidly

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c) to be close to failing

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