Out and about and other BINOMIALS

A binomial is formed by two words and a conjunction that joins them as in: “After a quick visit to the hotel to drop off her bags, she’s been out and about exploring the city all day”. 

The order of the words is fixed and if you reverse it, it would sound unnatural and be wrong, e.g. “about and out”.

What follows is a selection of some binomials that  I consider useful.  I encourage you to learn them and try to use one next time you have a conversation in English. 


Short and sweet

Time-saving because it is brief but at the same time, useful because it is relevant.

“The opening of the festival was short and sweet and before we knew it, the first gig had kicked off.”


Odds and ends

Miscellaneous things, stuff.

“After decluttering the kitchen cupboards, they tackled the drawers bulging with odds and ends they had accumulated over time.”

Similar to the binomial: bits and pieces


Safe and sound

Not hurt after being in a situation of danger.

“Her parents were relieved to have her back home, safe and sound after a year of backpacking around the world by herself.”


Peace and quiet

Tranquillity, lack of interruptions

“A few days in the countryside gave them a taste of the peace and quiet they couldn’t find in London.”


Hustle and bustle

It refers to the frenetic activity that happens in places such as the centre of big cities or a busy market.

“The tourists were fascinated by the hustle and bustle in the centre of Marrakesh.”


Back and forth 

Moving in one direction and then, in the opposite one.

“We’ve been driving back and forth all day, but there are still a few boxes to carry to the new flat.”


Sick and tired

Fed up. Having had enough of something

“The policewoman was sick and tired of her male colleagues’ patronising comments.”


Wear and tear

The damage created by the prolonged use of something

“This coat of paint will protect the garden furniture against the elements and the wear and tear.”


Give and take

Compromise and cooperation. Making mutual concessions.

“The pillar of their long-standing relationship is how well they both understand the concept of give and take.”


Live and learn

To show surprise at something new you learn or to express the idea that you have learnt from a mistake you’ve made.

“We believed what the travel guide said about safety in that area, and blindly ventured into the lion’s den. Big mistake. Live and  learn!.”


Neat and tidy

When something looks nice because it has been carefully arranged.

“I find it hard to imagine a Japanese home that is not neat and tidy.”


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