binomial expressions

phrases comprising two words


binomial expressions = gebräuchliche englische Phrasen, die ein Wortpaar enthalten, das normalerweise durch “and” oder “or” verbunden ist (z. B. yes and no, rain or shine, more or less). Die Reihenfolge der Wörter ist in der Regel festgelegt, und sie werden als ein einziger Block des englischen Wortschatzes betrachtet.



“Why do speakers of English like their homes to be spic and span rather than span and spic? Drink gin and tonic in the pub rather than tonic and gin? Stagger home from that same pub in a zig-zag rather than zag-zig fashion? Or stop for fish and chips rather than chips and fish on the way home… when using BINOMIAL EXPRESSIONS?”

Peter Hegarty - “Ladies and gentlemen: Word order and gender in English”

Did you

binomial expression
common phrase

- binomial expressions (also known as “binomials”, or “binomial pairs”, or “Siamese twins”) are regularly used by native English speakers because they are often catchy and easy to remember

English Radar


A great way to develop your English fluency is to learn well-known expressions by heart.

Binomial expressions are common English phrases that include a pair of words usually joined by “and” or “or” (e.g. black and white, plain and simple, more or less). The order of the words is usually fixed, and they are considered a single chunk of English vocabulary.

Power your English vocabulary with such catchy expressions to both understand and to sound like a native speaker.

Most binomials use “and” or “or” and involve:

• Opposites (hot and cold)
• Synonyms (peace and quiet)
• Rhyming or similar sounding words (meet and greet)
• Repetition (again and again)
• Alliteration (tried and tested)

by completing the following phrases:

1.  all or _________
     to describe when something must be done completely to be successful, or not at all

2.  bit by _________
     to describe when something happens in small steps

3.  bright and _________
     first thing in the morning

4.  do’s and _________
     used to describe what should and should not be done in a particular situation

5.  (you) live and _________
      to gain something new (possibly surprising), especially through your own experience

6.  mix and _________
       to choose different things and put them together (e.g. clothes, furniture, food,...)

7.  (it’s) now or _________
       used to emphasise that if you don’t do something immediately, there will not be another opportunity in the future


1. You have to be fully committed if you want to be a professional sports player. It’s all or NOTHING.

2.  Bit by BIT, I was able to improve my English language skills.

3.  She needs to leave bright and EARLY tomorrow for an important meeting.

4.  I wish I had known the necessary do’s and DON’TS before driving in Germany.

5.  I should have arrived at the airport earlier because I missed my flight. Oh well, you live and LEARN!

6.  She likes to mix and MATCH different dress styles and always looks great.

7.  If you feel ready and willing, just do it!… It’s now or NEVER!

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“I just love the way that BINOMIAL EXPRESSIONS provide a quick-and-dirty way to learn English.”


I'm compiling a comprehensive list of English BINOMIALS and will be offering these to OWAD readers free-of-charge before Christmas.

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

Paul Smith

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