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What are binomial expressions?

Something related to mathematics, right? Well, they are used widely in the English language as well!

What is a binomial expression or binomial pair in English?

It’s an expression comprised of two words that are joined by a conjunction. These two words are usually ‘and’ or ‘or’ and the word order is fixed.

Learning about binomial expressions is immensely helpful for a student of English. One sounds more natural while speaking, learns about the various vagaries and intricate details, and becomes more expressive.

Here is a list of the most useful binomial expressions in the English language:

1. Safe and sound

Meaning: When someone is safe and out of danger.

Usage:  During the war, the civilians took shelter in the underground bunker where they were safe and sound.

2. Peace and quiet

Meaning: A period of calm and silence, especially after a noisy or disturbing phase

Usage:  After the high-decibel political elections, we all need some peace and quiet and in our lives.

3. Sick and tired

Meaning: Bored to the point of weariness, annoyed and frustrated

Usage:  Martha was sick and tired of the sexist jokes made by her boss.

4. Bits and pieces

Meaning: A collection of small pieces, small individual things, sundry little items, tasks, and chores

Usage:  Before we leave for the vacation, there are some bits and pieces we have to cover up.

5. By and large

Meaning: Mostly, generally on the whole

Usage:  By and large, the people of the city are nice and helpful. However, there are a handful who sully the image with their obnoxious behavior.

6. Give or take

Meaning: Within a specified amount, apart from

Usage:  The new Windows update works pretty well, give or take a few glitches every now and then.

7. More or less

Meaning: To a certain extent, approximately

Usage:  They kept the secret more or less hidden from the hostel warden.

8. On and off

Meaning: Intermittently

Usage:  Ross and Rachel had an on and off relationship in the TV show FRIENDS.

9. Part and parcel

Meaning: An integral or essential piece

Usage:  Rude customers are part and parcel of the job of a support executive.

10. Short and sweet

Meaning:  Brief in duration, especially when attributing to an unpleasant task

Usage:  The speech by the CEO was short and sweet.

11. Sooner or later

Meaning: At some future time, eventually

Usage: Sooner or later, the truth will come out. So it is better to be honest about the mistake right now.

12. Step by step

Meaning: Progress gradually from one stage to the other

Usage:  The entire process was explained to the client step-by-step.

13. Neat and tidy

Meaning: Clean, in a state of order

Usage: The clothes were kept neat and tidy.

14. Wine and dine

Meaning: To treat someone to a fine meal

Usage:  The company treated the prospective clients to an expensive wine and dine.

15. Up and down

Meaning: Upward and downward in an alternate manner; used for emotions, fortunes etc

Usage: The firm’s financial fortunes fluctuated up and down during the year, but it still turned a profitable quarter.

16. Back and forth

Meaning: Go from one position to another and back again

Usage:  The argument of the defense counsel was going back and forth.

17. Far and wide

Meaning: Over a large area

Usage:  The manager’s intellect was spread far and wide in the industry.

18. Loud and clear

Meaning: In a clear and understandable manner

Usage:  The resounding defeat of the corrupt politician indicated that the message was loud and clear.

19. Skin and bones

Meaning: Very thin, from the lack of nutrition

Usage: Oliver Twist looked nothing more than skin and bones because of a lack of food.

20. Odds and ends

Meaning: Miscellaneous things

Usage: His bag was filled with an assortment of odds and ends.

21. Make or break

Meaning: Be a crucial factor in determining the success of anything

Usage: The form of Sachin Tendulkar was a make or break factor in the success of the Indian cricket team.

22. Take it or leave it

Meaning: A situation that has to be accepted without any change, or get rejected outright

Usage: The deal was finalized after a long time, so take it or leave it.

23. Wear and tear

Meaning: Damage and depreciation resulting from regular use

Usage:  The wear and tear of the car was way too much after 6 years of use.

24. Little by little

Meaning: A small amount at a time

Usage: Little by little, the students of Pep Talk India improved themselves to become accomplished speakers.

25. Spick and span

Meaning: Clean and spotless, as if brand new

Usage: He cleaned out the closet so well that it was all spick and span.

26. Slice and dice

Meaning: Break larger information into smaller parts and understand it from different viewpoints to understand it better

Usage: The earnings call of the company was deconstructed by the analyst, allowing them to slice and dice the entire information.

27. Win or lose

Meaning: Whether you succeed or fail

Usage: Win or lose, we are proud of ourselves for having come this far.

28. Do’s and don’ts

Meaning: Instruction or warnings about what to do and not to do in a particular situation

Usage: The do’s and don’ts for the religious pilgrimage were listed by the authorities.

29. Live and learn

Meaning: Learn from the experiences that life gives us

Usage:  I was not allowed to go on the trip because of the health restrictions. Well, we live and learn!

30. Done and dusted

Meaning: Be completely finished or ready

Usage: We are done and dusted with the critical project, after putting in long hours of work.

31. Down and out

Meaning: Without money, a job, or a place to live in

Usage:  After the recession hit in 2008, Sahil was down and out after being given the pink slip in his firm.

32. High and dry

Meaning: Without resources or help

Usage:  The impoverished families were left high and dry by the government after it took over their land.

33. Rain or shine

Meaning: Under any circumstances (work done)

Usage: I am determined to pass the CA exam this time, come rain or shine!

Read more

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