"Fathers then and now" (spend on vs. spend at)

Hi, please have a look at these jokes:

In 1900, a father gave a pencil box for Christmas, and the kid was all smiles.
Today, a father spends $800 at Toys ‘R’ Us, and the kid screams: “I wanted Sega!”
=> I’ve heard:
spend time doing sth
spend time on doing sth
spend money on sth

but I’ve never heard “spend money at sth”, so I guess this “Toys ‘R’ Us” must be a place (shop), mustn’t it?

In 1900, a Father’s Day gift would be a hand tool.
Today, he’ll get a digital organizer.
=> What is a ‘digital organiser’?

In 1900, fathers said, “A man’s home is his castle.”
Today, they say, “Welcome to the money pit.”
=> What is a ‘money pit’?

By the way, these sentences are cited from a series of jokes named “Father then and now”. Do you think it’s a suitable name? (I’ve never heard of ‘then and now’, just ‘now and then’

Many thanks in advance
Nessie :slight_smile:


“Toys ‘R’ Us” is a globally operating toy store chain. It is the second largest toy store chain in the United States (Wal-Mart being the largest). Obviously, he couldn’t have bought “Toys ‘R’ Us” for $800 so “spend on” cannot be used here. “At” is a good choice since “Toys ‘R’ Us” is a place.

Thanks, Atomos, and how about the others?

Hi Nessie,

Atomos answered your question perfectly. What exactly is that you don’t understand? By the Atomos, welcome to english-test.net and many thanks for your great support.

TOEIC listening, talks: Business man is leaving voice mail for his secretary asking to her to rearrange this schedule[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Nessie

A ‘digital organizer’ would be something such as a Palm Pilot.

A ‘pit’ is a large, deep hole. Calling a house a ‘money pit’ means that the person is viewing the house as something into which a lot of money must constantly be “dumped” (i.e. there are never-ending costs).

Saying ‘then and now’ means ‘in the past and now’.
Saying ‘now and then’ usually means ‘occasionally’.

Thanks a lot for the picture, Amy, but I’m afraid I still can’t get it very well what a ‘digital organiser’ is (and this time I won’t blame myself for being too dumb :stuck_out_tongue: just lack of technological knowledge)

Hi Torsten, I’m afraid I can’t understand why you asked me this. Yes, Atomos gave the perfect answer for “Toy ‘R’ Us”, but not other queries, which was why I continued asking (I typed ‘How about the others?’, not ‘I don’t understand’)

Best wishes,

Hi Nessie

Very basically, a digital organiser is a digital appointment book (diary) which has a number of other functions. You might also call one of these a PDA: