Skip to main content

English Idioms

“burn the candle at both ends”

Burn the candle at both ends


  • Working hard for long hours, sometimes starting early in the morning to late in the evening.
  • Trying to do two or more large projects at the same time.

Sample Sentences

  1. My father works hard and burns the candle at both ends to pay for our family’s expenses.
  2. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends to finish this essay for my writing class.
  3. Why are you always burning the candle at both ends? I’m worried about your physical and mental health.
  4. Having a part-time job and going to school might be too much for you. I suggest not burning the candle at both ends.

Conversation Questions

  1. What are the dangers of burning the candle at both ends in your school, work, and personal life?
  2. Is it possible to be successful in your job, but experience failure in your personal life because you try to burn the candle at both ends?
  3. Do you know someone who has burned the candle at both ends and has experienced great success or other challenges in their life?
  4. Do you ever feel pressure from family to succeed in school, but you end up burning the candle at both ends to do so? What have you done in such situations?

Speaking Situation

Your brother is a full-time student in his last year of college, and he is always working full time to care for his wife and two children. Every day you see him, he looks exhausted, and he even fell asleep last night as you were eating dinner. Basically, he is burning the candle at both ends, and he is suffering physically and mentally. What are three suggestions that you can give him to find balance in school, at work, and with his family?

Possible Answer

“Listen. Your kids asked me last week if I can take them on a camping trip because you are so busy “making money” as they put it. How about taking fewer classes so you don’t feel so much stress? Yes, you might need to postpone graduation, but your kids will remember the time that you spent with them more.”

Language Practice

Sometimes, learners know the meaning of an idiom, but they don’t know how to use it correctly in conversation or writing. Thus, this activity checks your grammatical accuracy with the idiom so you become more confident in using it. 

Try More Free Listening at