"... It's forty-ten, forty-ten to Slytherin and Pucey has the Quaffle ..."

Harry could hear Luna's ludicrous lion hat roaring amidst the Gryffindor cheers and felt heartened; only thirty points in it, that was nothing, they could pull back easily. ....

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The word 'in' confuses me here. I feel "only thirty points behind" makes more sense. Any thoughts?


'Only _____ in it' in this context is very idiomatic to the circumstances of a game or contest.

only thirty points in it.

would be understood to mean

only thirty points between them.

Literally 'in it' makes very little sense. In what? Presumably 'it' is the game's score, but if you tried to say

only thirty points in the score

it wouldn't meant the same thing at all.

So I guess it's just one of those idioms you have to learn.

  • 1
    Is this BrE? I'm a native speaker of AmE and that phrase is not familiar to me. – Kevin Feb 23 '19 at 4:42
  • I would interpret it as only thirty points in (the game / the game's score) so far. More often, however, I don't hear in it but simply in. As in: they were only thirty points in, and already there was a significant lead. – Jason Bassford Feb 23 '19 at 15:03
  • @JasonBassford What's "they were only thirty points in" supposed to mean? – dan Feb 23 '19 at 22:18
  • Yes it's probably specific to British English. I can assure you my interpretation is correct and Jason Bassford's is not. It is referring to the difference in the score. – fred2 Feb 24 '19 at 1:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.