Here are two idioms to talk about when something has begun and then it’s changed in the middle. When you begin to do something and then suddenly you change and do something else.

It’s often used in business because a business will begin to do one thing and then turn around and change and do something else.

The first idiom is: change horses in midstream. To change horses in midstream means change something after you’ve already started. Started to do something and then changed to do something different. Changed horses in midstream.

This is obviously a very old idiom from when people were riding horses.

A stream is like a river. A stream is a small river. And they have to go across the river…

So if I want to change horses, change to a different horse: I’m riding this horse; I want to ride the other horse. Then maybe it’s a good idea to wait until I get across the stream and then change the horses.

But in this idiom it’s “change horses in midstream”. Midstream: in the middle of the stream. So it’s as if you’re going across the stream, and in the middle of the stream decide to suddenly change horses. You’ve already begun and then change.

Change horses in midstream.

A lot of idioms are old like this. They come from before there were cars or before there was modern technology. So the idiom comes from something old.

Another way to say that you are changing something after you’re already beginning is: to do an about-face. Do an about-face. An about-face.

This comes from the military, from the army. In the army, soldiers often march. Marching marching. Walking walking. And there’s a command: “About- FACE!” and everybody turns around. So walking, about-face: turn around. So do an about-face, to do an about-face means turn around. Turn around 180 degrees to the opposite way. About-face, turn around, go the other way. It’s also just used as a general idiom to talk about changing what you’re doing after you’ve already started. Do an about-face.

These are two idioms to talk about changing after something has already begun. Usually it’s not really a good idea. Not always. Maybe sometimes it’s a good idea to do an about-face and do something completely different. I think, especially “change horses in midstream” is usually used when you’re talking about it’s a bad idea.

“We started this already. Why should we change horses in midstream? It doesn’t make sense! Let’s wait until later and then change later.”

All right? I hope that’s helpful for you. Two idioms to talk about changing after you’ve already started: “change horses in midstream” and “do an about-face”.


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