"At all", "For the life of mine", "One bit" and "A wink"

A-friend

Senior Member
Persian (Farsi)
Hello everybody
I was wondering if someone could let me which one of the identical following self-made sentences does not sound natural because of the different time adverbs:
  • I couldn’t fall asleep last night at all.
  • I couldn’t fall asleep last night for the life of mine.
  • I couldn’t fall asleep last night one bit.
  • I couldn’t fall asleep last night a wink.
For me, they all mean the same, but I doubt if the last three sentences are used as common as the first one. Aside from this mater, they all mean the same and work properly to me.
 
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  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    • I couldn’t fall asleep last night at all.
    • I couldn’t fall asleep last night for the life of mine.
    • I couldn’t fall asleep last night one bit.
    • I couldn’t fall asleep last night a wink.
    I couldn't sleep at all last night.
    I couldn't fall asleep last night for the life of me./I couldn't for the life of me fall asleep last night.
    I didn't sleep a wink last night.
     

    A-friend

    Senior Member
    Persian (Farsi)
    - I couldn't sleep at all last night.
    - I couldn't fall asleep last night for the life of me.
    - I didn't sleep a wink last night.
    How is it possible? Are they like fixed terms velisarius? Could you possibly explain and somehow clarify them to me in a manner I could understand them?
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    • It's a question of idiom on the whole. including repeated use of the wrong vocabulary which happens when people make up their own multiple sentences.

    • 1. I couldn’t fall asleep last night at all. I didn't sleep at all last night.

    • 2.I couldn’t fall asleep last night for the life of mineFor the life of me, I couldn't get to sleep last night.

    • 3.I couldn’t fall asleep last night one bit. I didn't sleep one bit last night.

    • 4.I couldn’t fall asleep last night a wink. I didn't sleep a wink last night.


    • In #1, #3 and #4 the adverb phrases in bold should come before 'last night', or rather after 'sleep', which they modify.The use of 'fall asleep' is not idiomatic/colloquial here - we'd say 'get to sleep', but in #1,#3 and #4 it would be better to use simple past negative 'I didn't sleep'. The logic being that if you couldn't get to sleep you didn't sleep.
    In #2, The expression is 'for the life of me'. It's not wrong, but I think it's old-fashioned.

    I've forgotten how to get rid of these annoying bullet points. Using numbers makes referring much easier!
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    not...at all
    not...for the life of me
    not...a bit
    not...a wink

    These are used with negative verbs in this way:

    I didn't/I couldn't sleep at all.
    I couldn't for the life of me remember his name...so embarrassing.

    (As Hermione says, it may be old-fashioned, but I'd use it in a situation where not being able to do something is highly embarrassing.)
    I don't mind a bit/one bit/at all. (I wouldn't use it for not being able to get any sleep.)
    I didn't get a wink of sleep/I didn't sleep a wink.
     

    A-friend

    Senior Member
    Persian (Farsi)
    • 2.I couldn’t fall asleep last night for the life of mine For the life of me, I couldn't get to sleep last night.
    In #2, The expression is 'for the life of me'. It's not wrong, but I think it's old-fashioned.
    How a native speaker would say it in modern English these days? Is there another up-to-date adverb as a substitute?
     
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