A lesson to

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A lesson to

Post by Stevenloan » Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:00 pm

Fox News : Now that the number of new people infected with the coronavirus in China is slowing, the country's Communist Party is ratcheting up threats against the West, with a particularly nasty warning about access to life-saving drugs aimed at the United States.

Facebooker : I hope this is a lesson to America. We should be manufacturing our own drugs. The USA should not be dependent on China to provide needed drugs. Really USA should not depend on China for anything that is needed for health and welfare. Let’s get back to buying all products from USA manufacturers.

- Hi everybody! I guess "a lesson to" is more grammatical than "a lesson for", is it correct? I'm asking because I'm confused. The Facebooker is from the US.

Your answers will be greatly appreciated.

StevenLoan
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Re: A lesson to

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:29 pm

My sense of the difference in the way these expressions are used is that the admonitory aspect of "lesson to" is stronger than with "lesson for". But they are both grammatically standard terms.
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Re: A lesson to

Post by Phil White » Sat Mar 14, 2020 8:14 pm

Yes. Erik is right. We tend to use "a lesson to" when something bad has happened (usually as a result of doing something wilfully wrong or foolish) and we are saying that a person should learn from the unpleasant experience. It carries a little of the sense "that serves you right". We see the expression "a lesson to" in the phrase "let that be a lesson to you", which would often be said to someone after a punishment has been administered. An example:
Child A punches child B and child B punches child A back and hurts him. Child A's mother could well say "You started it, so it's your fault. Let that be a lesson to you."

Also, when corporal punishment was still allowed in schools in the UK, a teacher or the headteacher would have been very likely to say "let that be a lesson to you" after caning someone for a misdemeanour. (I speak with some authority and from painful experience, although I still maintain I was provoked when I tried to see how far I could push another pupil's head through a brick wall.)

"A lesson for you" on the other hand is entirely neutral. It doesn't carry the sense of "that serves you right".
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: A lesson to

Post by Stevenloan » Sun Mar 15, 2020 2:01 pm

Erik and Phil White : Thank you both so much for your help. I really appreciate it.

StevenLoan
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