AE 371 – Expression: To Be On For Young And Old

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of The Aussie English Podcast where you learn to use the expression TO BE ON FOR YOUNG AND OLD.

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AE 371 – Expression: To Be On For Young And Old

Let’s get started. What has going on guys? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today we’re going to be covering the expression to be on for young and all the people for that. Let me just say hey how are you going. Welcome to Aussie English. The number one podcast for anyone and everyone interested in understanding and speaking Australian English. That is my passion here at Aussie English.

Welcome to all the new listeners, if this is the first time that you’ve listened to this podcast. Sit back, grab a cuppa, as in, grab a cup of coffee or a cup of tea, kick your feet up, relax and enjoy the episode.


So, a few announcements before we get into the content today guys. I have been working my butt off, I‘ve been working my arse off, all week trying to get the new Aussie English Classroom website up and running for you guys. This has been quite a bit of an effort quite a bit of a mammoth effort. It’s required a lot of work. It’s required a lot of work. So, I guess, I want to thank Praveen. I hired a worker over a website called Upwork, which helps me find virtual assistants online, and Praveen has been a godsend. He probably won’t ever listen to this podcast, but Praveen if you ever do, thank you so much for all the help with setting up the new Aussie English Classroom. I’m probably going to make a video once it’s completely set up and running, just to give you the lowdown, to show you how it’s used. But it’s pretty much the same as how I had set it up on the podcast website, except now, it’s set up on the domain, and you’ll see that the format’s a lot better. It’s a lot smoother, (it) looks a lot nicer, it’s a lot more intuitive, and when you get in there and start using the content I think you’re going to really enjoy it.

Anyway guys, I can talk more about that at the end. Let’s get into today’s expression, to be on for young and old.

Aussie Joke:

Actually, before that, as usual, I have a joke for you.

Alright. Today’s joke: Can a kangaroo jump higher than a house? Can a kangaroo, you know, Skippy, jump higher than a house? What do you guys reckon? What do you guys reckon? Of course, he can. Of course, he can, because houses can’t jump. Houses can’t jump. You get it. (Do you) see what I did there? (Do you) get the joke?

Alright guys, (it’s) time to define the words in the expression to be on for young and old, to be on for young and old.


To be“. To be. So, I’m sure you’ll all know what to be is. To exist or live; to take place, happen, occur; to occupy a place or position. It’s got a lot of meanings. It’s probably one of the first things you ever learn in English. The verb “to be”.

If something “is on”, for something “to be on“, I guess, that is for something to be happening, for something to be occurring. And you’ll often hear this… I guess it’s the phrasal verb. You’ll often hear this as, “Is the party on tonight?”, “Yeah, it’s on.”. So, “Is the party happening tonight?”, “Yeah it’s happening. It’s on.”. So, “to be on”, to be occurring, to be happening.

Young“. “Young” is to have lived for only a short time. Right? It’s the opposite of the word “old“. So, both of those words in relation to one another, I am younger than my father, and my father is older than me. So, I am young. He is old. I have few years. I have lived a shorter time. He has more years. He has lived a longer time. So, I am young and he is old.

Expression Definition:

But the expression “to be on for young and old” has a completely different meaning from the individual words that go in the expression. OK?

So, if something is on for young and old, it’s on for young and old, this means that there is commotion. Usually, that something is totally out of control. And it’s associated with something like a fight or an argument or maybe a really really big party. OK? So, it‘s characterised by the participants taking part in whatever this thing is, a fight, an argument, a party, and the lack of inhibition, the lack of restraint. So, a lot of commotion. Everyone’s running around going crazy. Ok? To be on for young and old.


This is an expression that originated in Australia and New Zealand. I couldn’t find the date or, you know, a rough estimate of the time when this expression was first coined, when people first started to use this expression, but I did find out that it is an Australian and New Zealand expression, which was interesting, because I assumed that “to be on for young and old” would be something used everywhere. Britain, America, but according to the Internet it’s just Australia/New Zealand in origin. But I’m sure people would understand the context if you use it anywhere else.

As usual, let’s go through some examples, guys, some good examples, sort of small narratives, small stories, of me showing you how this expression would be used whilst also giving you more vocab, more English language to sort of give you context and expand your vocab.



Alright. So, example number one, example number one. You’re a big macho man. OK? So, you’re very manly. You’re a big mark show man and your wife or girlfriend, you two are out in the street. You know, maybe you went to dinner, you had a nice meal at a restaurant, it’s the evening, you’re walking home along the street, and some bogan in the street, some Australian bogan, walks up and starts cussing, he starts swearing at you, he starts saying all these nasty things. So, I’m trying to put on a bogan accent there. So, he starts saying all these nasty things to your girlfriend, and you rage up, you arc up, you get incredibly enraged, incredibly angry, as a result of what he’s doing. A fight begins and it’s on for young and old. It’s on for young and old, as in, this commotion has started. Things are starting to get out of control. Things are going crazy. It‘s just on for young and on. Ok? Because a fight began.


Example number two. So, there’s a party at my place and you guys are all invited. There’s a party at my house, we’re outside, it’s a warm day, there’s a pool, no one’s in the pool though, and as I walk past the pool fully-clothed, I have my clothes on, all of a sudden, one of my mates jumps out and gives me a shove and I fall in the pool. Moments later, everyone else just jumps in the pool and starts splashing around, you know, they’re doing flips off the diving board, they’re jumping about, screaming, shouting, everyone everyone’s having fun, having some drinks. Maybe someone drops a beer accidentally and it falls in the pool, which is like a big no-no. But we could say, it’s on for young and old. This isn’t necessarily a negative sort of event, you know, like a fight or an argument, but it is still that there is a lot of commotion, that things are getting out of control. Ok? So, it’s on for young and old. Everyone started jumping in the pool screaming shouting having fun. It was on for young and old. It was on for young and old.


Example number three. Imagine that you are on YouTube, and you have published a video on YouTube, and the moment you publish it, the trolls come out of the woodwork. OK? The trolls come out of the woodwork. “Come out of the woodwork” is a cool expression used everywhere, and it means to kind of appear out of nowhere. I think it would be like, imagine having bugs in wood, in the woodwork, in your house, in a boat, whatever it is, and all of a sudden, they appear, they come out of the woodwork. So, the trolls on YouTube, these are the guys who write nasty comments and try and get a reaction, “the trolls”, start abusing the YouTuber. They start making fun of the YouTuber, the YouTuber starts replying with nasty comments. Maybe he is trying to troll the troll. He’s taking the piss out of the troll. He starts paying the troll out. The troll starts paying him out in response. So, it’s on for young and old. There’s a huge argument taking place. People are swearing at each other, commenting, it’s just going lightning fast. Everything is on for young and old. It’s on for young and old. Ok?

So, let’s go through a cheeky listen and repeat exercise, guys, where we can practice the expression “to be on for young and old”. And this is your chance to practice your Aussie English pronunciation. It doesn’t matter too much if you you’re not after the Aussie English pronunciation. If you want to practice your British accent, your American accent, whatever your accent is in English, just repeat the words after me. But if you are trying to nail the Aussie accent, then just try and say it exactly as I do.

Ok, guys? So, listen and repeat after me.

Listen & Repeat:

To be on for young and old.

To be on for young and old.

To be on for young and old.

To be on for young and old.

To be on for young and old.

It’s on for young and old.

It’s on for young and old.

It’s on for young and old.

It’s on for young and old.

It’s on for young and old.

And I want to show you, guys, I want to show you, guys, sometimes we’ll actually contract the word “it”, ok, at the start of sentences like this, and instead of “it’s” we’ll just say the “‘s” before we start the sentence. OK. So instead of “it‘s on for young and old“, quite often people might just say “‘s’on for young and old!”. So, let’s do that five times. Ok? So, instead of saying “it’s” I want you to just start the sentence with “‘s”. Ok? And it’s a good practice of linking the “‘s”, the s-sound onto the next word. Ok? So, listen and repeat after me again.

Listen & Repeat:

‘S’on for young and old.

‘S’on for young and old.

‘S’on for young and old.

‘S’on for young and old.

‘S’on for young and old.

Great job, guys, awesome job. Keep at it. Keep practicing that Aussie pronunciation. And before we finish up let’s go through an Australian fact.

Aussie Fact:

So, I had something to correct, I had something to correct. Last week I said that Australia was colonised in 1770, in the year 1770, and this was incorrect, guys. This was incorrect. So, this is an example of owning your mistakes. As a result of making this mistake, I went and looked it up and I learnt a lot more about early Australian history. So, I wanted to correct that and talk about what actually happened when Australia was discovered.

So, when was Australia actually discovered and when was it colonised? So, there’s a lot of argument about this. Ok? Usually, if you ask the average Australian, “When was Australia discovered?”, they’re going to think about it in terms of British discovery. So, they’re going to say, “Australia was discovered on the 22nd of August 1770 by navigator and astronomer Captain James Cook who was from the British Empire obviously.”. However, between the years of 1606 and 1770 more than 50 European ships had actually made landfall, they’d arrived, they had I guess “fallen on the land”, the boats had hit the land and they had touched Australian soil. So, more than 50, more than 50, other European ships had actually arrived (in), had actually discovered, had actually found Australia between the years of 1606 and 1770. That’s like 164 years. Isn’t that crazy?

The difference is that none of these ships, none of these Europeans, cared about claiming Australia as a colony. They probably didn’t even know what Australia was. They would’ve come to Australia, they land somewhere, and having no understanding of the geography down there they would’ve just assumed it was a small island or some unimportant area and moved on shortly after landing there to collect water or to collect some food.

However, ok, so we’ve established that more than 50 European ships found Australia or discovered the Australian continent without claiming it before Captain Cook did, but before this time, Australian Indigenous people had lived on the continent for thousands of years. So, the native Australian people had actually lived here for probably more than 50,000 years, 50,000 years. That is insane. Ok? So, it just blows my mind every time you think about that. And that is why they have such a strong deep connection with the continent of Australia. The indigenous people, they have been here for, I guess, what… to put that in context, the Egyptian pyramids were built 5,000 years ago, I believe, again, I would have to look that up, but 5,000 years ago. If you go back another nine times that distance of time from present, another nine 5,000 years before that, that is when the Aboriginals first got to Australia.

Anyway, that’s the context of finding Australia. And colonising Australia, that occurred in 1788. Ok? So, Captain Cook found Australia in 1770. He then went back on his journey all the way back to Britain. The first fleet the first fleet of ships was put together, and 18 years after Captain Cook had found Australia, Captain Arthur Phillip and 1500 other people, who were convicts, crew, marines, civilians, arrived in Sydney Cove with The First Fleet. Ok?

So, that was the clearing up that I wanted to do with regards to discovery and colonisation of Australia. (It was a) bit of a long fact there at the end, guys, but I hope you enjoyed it.

So, again I’ll give you a little bit of spiel about The Aussie English Classroom, guys. You can now sign up to the Aussie English Classroom if you go to Ok? You can just click on in a roll. It’s still one dollar for a month. Give it a go. Get in there. But now, it’s completely upgraded, guys. You get access to each episode like this as of course, you get points for finishing certain sections, you can make a profile, you can message other people, you can create groups, you can chat on there, you can comment after each of the lessons or on the course to discuss certain parts of it, there’s a leaderboard for points, and I’m thinking about giving away a free lesson every month to anyone who’s at the top of the leaderboard. Ok?

So, get in there and give it a go. It’s one dollar to enroll for a month. You can cancel at any time, guys. It’s risk free. I just can’t wait for you to get in there and give it a go.

Anyway, this episode has gone way too long. As usual guys, I thank you for your patience, I hope you have gotten a lot out of it, I hope you had an amazing week, and I would chat to you soon.

See you guys.

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