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What Does “Hindsight Is Always 20/20” Mean?

Meaning Of “Hindsight Is Always 20/20

I’m sure there has been at least one time in your life when someone has told you “hindsight is always 20/20″ (also spelled 2020 or 20/20) after making a less-than-great decision. Even though most native English speakers decently understand this phrase, what does it mean? And how can you use it?

In short, “hindsight is always 20/20″ is a colloquial English phrase that means it is always easier to evaluate a situation once it has already passed. In other words, we can only know the true impacts and effects of our actions (good or bad) after they are done. 

Thus, you can easily apply this phrase to just about any situation where the effect of someone’s actions is revealed. In most cases, however, people use this phrase in situations with negative or detrimental effects. 

Spelling Variations:

It is worth noting that the phrase can bee seen written as “Hindsight is always 2020,” as well as “hindsight is always 20-20,” as a number variations on the numbers’ portion exists.

Examples Of “Hindsight Is Always 20/20″

Seems easy enough, right? Well, take a look at these examples which can help you understand how to use these in your writing:

  • Sarah was usually very good at weighing out her decisions. She was a planner who thought out everything to the letter. Unfortunately, she failed to plan for her upcoming presentation and decided to wing it rather than prepare and rehearse. Unfortunately, due to her choice, her presentation didn’t go well. I guess you could say hindsight is always 20/20. 
  • James was interested in increasing his savings through trading stocks. He was usually safe about it. However, he decided to make a pretty risky trade one day. This decision caused him to lose around half of his savings. As they say, hindsight is always 20/20. 
  • When another Republican, Representative J. Randy Forbes of Virginia, pressed him on Operation Fast and Furious, Mr. Holder retorted: Hindsight is always 20/20– The New York Times

How To Use “Hindsight Is Always 20/20″ In Your Writing 

To understand its use, you should first know the components of the phrase. “Hindsight” is a word that describes the process of reflecting on things that have happened in the past. “20/20″ is a term often used by eye doctors to denote someone having perfect vision. 

With these separate meanings in mind, it should be clear that “hindsight is always 20/20″ is used to show that you have a “perfect vision” when looking at past events and decisions. 

As mentioned earlier, when using this phrase in your writing, it is most common (and customary) to utilize it as a negative phrase. Using “hindsight is 20/20″ to show positive effects/changes in your writing can confuse readers.

Watch Video

For more in-depth explanation, please watch the video below.

Related: For more common expressions, click here. 

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By Ryan Fisher

Ryan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and specializes in proofreading, editing, and content writing with an emphasis on business communication.

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