Just now a fellow user used this "For the life of me" in an answer to my question. I'm not aware of this phrase but it seems incorrect to say "life of me". Shouldn't it be "life of mine"?

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    This is a colloquial phrase. Meaning "Even if my life would be lost if I failed..." Said this way it is more dramatic. I generally hear this from older speakers. – Michael Dorgan Nov 15 '17 at 5:49

Yes, SovereignSun, it should technically be "for the life of mine", but it is an idiomatic expression, used colloquially often, for a dramatic effect. I often say "for the life of me" even though it is technically incorrect grammatically. No one would ever say "for the life of mine" in the context you've just heard it used in, however. It's just an idiomatic expression, so the grammar doesn't have to be correct. I would use "for the life of mine" if I were talking about my actual life, rather than being dramatic idiomatically:

"For this life of mine is but one life of the many that I have lived before and shall live after." (I'm making an argument for reincarnation here.) (I also use "this" instead of "the" as it's hard to use "the" when saying "the life of mine"; it's also much easier just to say "my life".)

I hope that might have helped you out. Just remember that idioms don't have to make sense grammatically; that's the reason they're called "idioms", which derives from a Greek word meaning "to make one's own".

  • Why is this answer downvoted? What's incorrect about it? – SovereignSun Nov 16 '17 at 5:47
  • There's nothing wrong with it; I have someone who goes around voting my comments down. I had my past perfect answer downvoted because I talked about how it is often used in the subjunctive more so than in the indicative and, for some reason, because I mentioned that it was a subjunctive construction, it was downvoted. – Nick Nov 16 '17 at 5:52

That's a well-known idiom in English. This is one of those set phrases where grammar is set in stone and can't be changed for historical reasons. And it basically means that you can't understand something no matter how hard you try. For more examples, look here and here.

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