Even English teachers pick up new language and last night I used a particular phrase for the first time. I wrote to a friend at the end of a long day and told her:
“Y’know I was coming back into town tonight and wondered why everyone was drunk. And then I realised it’s St. Patrick’s Day! I didn’t know it was becoming a thing here in Brno..”
(But hey forget about green beer, new English phrases are far more important).
‘To become a thing‘ refers to something which is catching on, it’s becoming more popular or trendy.
It’s used to describe something cultural happening in society.
St. Patrick’s Day is just one more tradition which seems to be becoming part of the Czech calendar.
Here’s another example which was used recently by American magazine ‘Vanity Fair’, a bit humorously:
Although it was my first time saying ‘become a thing‘ last night, a few related phrases are well-known in English:
The Next Big Thing
You can use ‘the next big thing’ pretty much in any industry to talk about who or what you believe will be very popular or the next big trend.
Pop and film magazines are often trying to predict who will be the next big thing. Usually it’s someone who’s already on the radar, that they’ve already made some noise and maybe had a successful CD or film, but they haven’t yet been massive (= very popular). Now finally with their latest CD, film or other product, they’ll finally be big.
It’s A Thing Of The Past
This refers to something which we no longer do or take part in. It’s a tradition which has stopped, at least for the most part.
“Flares are a thing of the past.” [these days girls wear skinny skins or straight jeans, and men certainly wouldn’t wear flares like they used to]
On a google search I also found:
“Is marriage a thing of the past?” [of course people are still getting married, but there is a new trend in Western society of people not getting married]
“Is a job for life a thing of the past?” [in the past we used to believe we had a job for as long as we wanted it, and many people worked their way up at the same company]
“Will podcasts make radio a thing of the past?”
Still A Thing
Still a thing is used to question trends which are still happening, or to comment on trends which are losing popularity.
“Buying CDs – is that still a thing?”
Journalists and TV show hosts are using ‘still a thing‘ as a collocation. For example, the Obama-supporting comedian John Oliver has a political programme where sometimes he asks:
“How is this still a thing?”
This means “how is it still possible that we do this or follow this tradition?”
One example on his show was to discuss daylight saving time. He’s also talked about Columbus Day and the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated (John Oliver is a feminist who is against the idea of a sports magazine publishing a special issue with photos of models in bikinis).
Still a thing can also be used to describe couples:
“Hey do you know if Jane and Damien are still a thing?” In this case, we’re asking if they’re still a couple, if they’re still going out together.
Feel free to check out Daylight Saving Time: How Is This Still A Thing? below: