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The giant had a bonny daughter, and she and the lad grew very fond of each other. The giant said one day to Nix Nought Nothing: 'I've work for you tomorrow. There is a stable seven miles long and seven miles broad, and it has not been cleaned for seven years, and you must clean it tomorrow, or I will have you for my supper.'

The giant's daughter went out next morning with the lad's breakfast, and found him in a terrible state, for always as he cleaned out a bit, it just fell in again.

This is from " Nix Nought Nothing" in English fairly tales. I couldn't understand this sentence of "it just fell in again". Could you teach me the meaning?

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Imagine trying to dig a hole in mud. The mud is very soft. When you dig out some of the mud, it's not stiff enough to leave a hole and, instead, the surrounding mud fills in the hole as if you'd done nothing.

The "bit" in this phrase is the mud... or, in the case of the stables, it's horse poop...

What this is saying is that, no matter how much time he spent trying to get the horse poop out of the stables, there was so much (from having not been cleaned for seven years) that he wasn't making any progress on actually cleaning the stable.

  • Thank you for your answer. What does "it" in " it just fell in again" indicate? And "fall in" has many meanings, so what does "fall in" in this sentence mean? – Yuuichi Tam May 20 '16 at 20:15
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    "it' refers to "bit"... so, by extension, the poop. "Fall in" is literal. The poop fell in (or more likely "slid in") to the hole. – Catija May 20 '16 at 20:18
  • You aren't completely wrong - "a bit" is a little amount, or a part. – stangdon May 20 '16 at 21:06
  • Yes, sorry, missed your last message @YuuichiTam That is what "a bit" means in general but it specifically, in this case refers to a little amount of the poop. – Catija May 20 '16 at 21:08

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