How English word pairs work

How English word pairs work

Word pairs make your English more colloquial and conversational. (To see our first video on word pairs, click here.)

The technical term for these expressions is binomials and English is full of them! In this video you’ll learn:

– what some of them mean – the common patterns they follow – how to use them in action

We’ll show you phrases for things you’ll often find together like:

– soap and water – shoes and socks – shirt and tie – facts and figures

We’ll look at word pair opposites like:

– in and out – up and down – hit and miss – pros and cons

You’ll see examples of the most common type of English word pairs – words with similar meanings:

– this and that – front and centre – aches and pains – first and foremost – sick and tired – safe and sound

And we’ll also look at an interesting group of word pairs: words that rhyme, like:

– huffing and puffing – out and about – wear and tear

We know you love English word pairs.
They’re so common in English. If you’re going to improve your listening, you need them!
They’re colloquial and conversational and we use them all the time.
So here are lots more word pairs to expand your vocabulary
And this video has something special. You’re going to see my grandson!
Word pairs are set phrases. They’re two words joined with ‘and’ and English is full of them.
In this video, we’re looking at some different kinds of words that we often pair together.
And we’ll see if you can spot some patterns.
So let’s warm up with three easy ones.
Soap and…
Soap and water!
Yes. Shoes and …
Socks.
Shirt and …
Tie?
Yes.
Oh, OK.
So what’s the connection here?
It’s easy, huh? They’re all things you often find together.
Where there’s soap, there’s often water.
Where there’s a shirt, there’s often a tie, though not always!
Let’s try a harder one.
Facts and …
Oh I’m lost. What?
Facts and figures.
Oh facts and figures! OK.
So facts and figures are accurate, detailed information.
Exactly. So a company’s annual report would be filled with facts and figures.
I’m so excited to be here. It’s great to see you.
You too. So how did your team do this month, Jay?
Oh fantastic. This month was great!
So how did this month compare to last month.
Oh, that’s easy. Way better!
OK, but how many products did you sell?
Lots!
Jay. We need some fact and figures.
So facts and figures are things you often find together.
OK, now let’s look at a different type of word pair.
The kind of word connection is different.
Watch and see if you can work out what it is.
In and …
Out, in and out. For example we could say ‘he was in and out of jail for most of his life’.
Yeah, and then he’d go there regularly. Yes. So for example, when I’m working, Jay’s always coming in and out of my office. Disturbing me.
And then we have up and …
Up and down.
Yes. And what’s that?
The stock market has been up and down for the last month.
Yes, that’s a good example. And also people can feel up and down, can’t they? When they’re emotionally happy one minute and feeling a bit depressed the next.
We were up when we saw the curve was flattening in the corona virus and down when we realized it was going up again.
Yes. Hit and …
Miss. Hit and miss.
Yes, give me a sentence.
Making successful investments for me over the years has always been hit and miss.
Yes, it means in a way that’s not planned or organized. So things that are hit or miss are often unsuccessful.
Unfortunately.
So if we hit something we reach a target. And if we miss we fail to reach the target.
Now, here are the word pairs. In and out, up and down, hit and miss. What’s the connection here?
They’re all words with opposite meanings.
Some English word pairs are opposites. Here’s another example.
Pros and …
Cons. Pros and cons.
It’s the advantages and disadvantages of something.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all had company cars.
Management will never agree to that.
But have we ever made the business case?
The business case?
Yeah, where we set out the pros and cons and show them why it’s a good idea.
Really? Won’t it cost too much?
OK, so cost is a con. Cost. Now what about pros?
Oh well, I’d love to have a company car.
See that’s a pro. Happy employees.
No more lining up for the bus in the morning.
Another pro. It saves time.
I could listen to the radio while I’m driving to work.
Listen to news shows. Better informed employees.
Or music.
Or motivational recordings. Better informed and better motivated employees.
Wow, there are more pros than cons.
Yep. I’m sending this to your phone now. Now go and make the business case.
Me? Now?
Yeah, go on. You’ll do great. Off you go.
Pros and cons are opposites and that’s why we pair them together.
But other word pairs are different. Let’s look at another connection.
Watch some more examples and see if you can work out why we pair the words together.
This and …
That. This and that.
Yes. And it just means various things.
So what did you talk about?
Oh, this and that.
Yes.
Front and …
Front and center. Front and center.
Yes. And it means in the most important position. So erm…
Make that issue front and center at our next meeting.
Yes. Or, erm, the COVID crisis and race relations have both moved front and centre in the forthcoming election.
Aches and…
Pains.
OK, what’s the difference between an ache and a pain?
Oh, that’s interesting. A pain is what you have when a part of your body hurts, like a pain in your knee or your elbow.
OK, and an ache is a continuous pain.
Every morning I wake up with aches and pains.
Because you’re so old.
No, no. It’s because of all the exercise I do.
So we had, front and center, this and that, aches and pains. How is each pair connected here?
They have similar meanings.
They don’t have exactly the same meaning, but they’re very similar.
And word pairs like this are very common.
I think sometimes we do this because it adds emphasis to what we say. It exaggerates a bit.
First and …
Foremost. First and foremost. We can say that an individual is first and foremost in his profession.
Oh yes, and it emphasizes the fact that he’s the number one. The top of it.
Right. Or first and foremost in my speech, I want to point out that …
Yes, the most important thing in my speech is … First and foremost.
OK, another one. Each and …
Every, each and every.
Yes. And we use this when we mean, when we want to emphasize that we mean everyone or everything in a group.
We want to thank each and everyone of you for subscribing to our channel.
Yes. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, do it now!
One, two, three, four.
What are you doing?
I’m counting the paper clips.
But why?
Well, it’s part of my job. Every year I count the inventory.
So you count the paper clips?
Each and every paper clip, each and every year. Eight… Oh no. One, two, three.
You need to remember that a lot the words can have several different meanings, so it’s not always easy to spot what’s happening.
Let’s look at some words that you might think mean different things, but actually, sometimes their meanings can be similar.
Sick and…
Sick and tired.
Yes.
I’m sick and tired of the guy that they put in a management position at my company.
Yes, OK. So you’re angry and you’re complaining.
Exactly.
Yes, you’re feeling miserable about it.
I am, absolutely!
The word ‘sick’ often means ill or unwell.
But it can also mean bored and annoyed about something.
Hello. Hello? I am sick and tired of robo calls.
Me too.
Here’s another example. These words have a similar meaning that you might not know about.
Safe and …
Oh safe and sound.
Yes. Now ‘sound’ is interesting, because it can mean a noise, of course, but it doesn’t here. It means whole and healthy.
So safe and sound means safe and healthy – in one piece.
I arrived at my destination safe and sound.
Yes.
Phew! OK!
Have we heard from Tom yet?
No. Oh hi. Are you there yet?
Yeah, we’ve just walked in. Yes, we’re all home safe and sound.
And how was your flight?
Exhausting!
That was my grandson and his dad Tom, and his mum, Yana.
Tom and Yana are English teachers too, and Tom has a YouTube channel with his friend Sam.
I’m going to put the link to their channel here so you can check it out and subscribe.
Put it at the end of the video too.
OK. Now we have one more puzzle for you and it’s tricky.
There are some other types of words that we sometimes pair together.
This is a different type of connection. Can you work it out?
What about huffing? Huffing and …
Huffing and puffing.
Yes, what’s that?
It’s what happens to me when I climb up four flights of stairs to the deck.
Yeah. It’s when you get wheezy and you’re breathing heavily. And also you can huff and puff about doing something that you don’t want to do. So I could ask Jay to clear the table and there might be a lot of huffing and puffing.
I don’t like clearing the table.
Out and …
Out and about
We might say we’ve been out and about in Philadelphia talking to people.
OK, and it would mean travelling around. But we can also use it when somebody has been indoors because they’ve been ill and when they’re able to go outside again, we’d say …
They’re out and about.
Yes.
Wear and …
Where and when.
Oh.
That’s what we say when someone wants to make an appointment with you or set up a meeting. Where and when?
OK, but I was thinking of wear and ttttt…
Where and, and what?
Wear and tear.
Oh wear and tear! Oh, of course.
Can I throw these secateurs away, Jay?
No, I was going to sell them on ebay.
They’re old and rusty.
Oh it’s just a little wear and tear.
It’s damage to objects usually, that occurs just by use, over a period of time. Wear and tear.
OK, so we have huffing and puffing.
Out and about.
Wear and tear
What’s the connection here? It’s not just about meaning.
Think about the sounds. The words all rhyme.
So become a poet and try making some sentences with them.
Or with the other word pairs you’ve seen. Experiment with them in the comments. We love hearing from you.
Have we finished now?
Not really because there are so many useful expressions like this, but we can make another video.
Make sure you hit the notification bell so you don’t miss it.
Bye everyone.
See you soon. Bye-bye.

To see our first video on word pairs, click here.

Click here to see Tom and Sam’s YouTube channel.

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