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Everyday Idioms: Pairs of words joined with 'and'

Level: Intermediate
Focus: Language


What do you notice about this sentence?

A black and white film.

1. It's an everyday idiom
2. The words are in a fixed order joined by 'and'. (You'll probably agree that 'a white and black film' doesn't sound right, and it isn't.)
3. Using the stress pattern OoO (black and white) and not saying the 'd' in 'and', makes it much easier to pronounce. Try it.

English has quite a few everyday idioms like this. Here are some more examples of pairs of words joined with 'and'.

short and sweet

ups and downs

out and about

peace and quiet

trial and error

forgive and forget

odds and ends

safe and sounds

bright and early

wait and see

pros and cons

sick and tired

Part 1. Match the pairs to the correct sentence below then check you answers at the end of this page.

a. They had a scary flight but arrived home …………....
b. I'm …………… of him complaining all the time.
c. It was great to meet so many people but I'm happy to get home to some …………….
d. I don't know what will happen, so I guess we'll have to …………….
e. We don't know the best way to do this so we'll proceed by …………….
f. I like to get ……………., I don't like to stay in the office all day
g. My bag is full of stuff. Nothings special just …………….
h. These students are in class …………… every morning.
i. She has her ……………. One day she's all excited, next she's feeling low.
j. We need to know the …………… before we can decide what to do
k. There's no point in arguing, lets just ……………..
l. The best emails are ……………..

Part 2. The pronunciation of pairs of words joined by 'and' makes them much easier to remember and say. Match these stress patterns to the pairs above. For example, 'short and sweet' OoO. Then check you answers at the end of the page.

OoO (clue: 7 pairs have this pattern
OoOo (clue: 3 have this pattern
OooO (clue: 1 has this pattern
oOooO (clue: 1 has this pattern)

Part 3. What do you notice about the word 'and'? It's always unstressed. And more than that, the final letter (d) isn't pronounced. Go back to the list again and practice saying the pairs emphasizing the stress pattern and not pronouncing the d in and. When you do this, you'll find the pairs much easier to pronounce.