Session 1

We meet a British man who really loves Christmas… so much that he celebrates it every day! This unit looks at the differences between must and have to.

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    Activity 3

Activity 3

6 Minute Vocabulary

Binomials

Sale sign

Mr Christmas said he never gets sick and tired of his celebrations.

Sick and tired is a phrase which means 'annoyed and bored'. Phrases like this with two nouns joined by and are very common - and useful - in English. They're called binomials. You can see more examples of binomials in the Session Vocabulary box on the right.

To do

Learn more about these phrases in 6 Minute Vocabulary and answer this question:

Which binomial could we use to describe this picture?

Listen to the audio

Show transcript Hide transcript

Finn
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary with me Finn…

Alice
And me Alice. And today’s show is all about binomials.

Finn
Or as some call them, binomials. Yes, those short and sweet phrases English speakers love to use in everyday English. We’ll look at what binomials are, what they mean and how to use them.

Alice
There’ll be a cheap and cheerful quiz…

Finn
And we’ll leave you with a quick and dirty tip for learning vocabulary.

Alice
So: to start off, let’s listen to Charlie and his mum talking about football practice.

Finn
Here’s a question to think about while you listen: what’s a good treatment for aches and pains?

Alice
What’s good for aches and pains? Let’s find out.

INSERT
Mum
Hello, love. How was practice today?

Charlie
Horrible. I hate football.

Mum
Oh dear. Why’s that?

Charlie
I’m sick and tired of being in goal. Look at these bruises – I’m black and blue.

Mum
Let’s have a look…oh yes love, why don't you jump in the bath? Warm water’s very good for aches and pains.

STING

Finn
So, that’s Charlie and his mum. And we asked you: what’s good for aches and pains?

Alice
And Charlie’s mum says the answer is: a warm bath.

Finn
That’s right. And the phrase aches and pains is our first binomial.

Alice
Now binomials are short English phrases made of two words that go together – and the two words are often joined with and. Like aches and pains. Which means: general pains in the body, that usually aren’t serious.

Finn
Ok: now it’s important to remember that binomials are always fixed: you can’t change anything about them. You can’t say pains and aches. You can’t say aches and hurts and you can’t say hurts and pains. So, Alice: Do you suffer from aches and pains?

Alice
Sometimes Finn, when you're around. Anyway, poor Charlie said he was black and blue. He’s talking about the bruises on his body he got from playing football.

Finn
Black and blue? Must have been a tough game…?

Alice
Yes, no wonder Charlie said he’s sick and tired of football.

Finn

Sick and tired. It means really fed up and bored with something. And remember, we can’t say tired and sick.

Alice
We can’t say sick and bored either. What are you sick and tired of at the moment Finn?

Finn
I'm sick and tired of commuting: travelling to work. It took me about an hour this morning.

Alice
That's a really long time.

Finn
And another binomial: bit by bit - this time, the word in the middle is by instead of and.

IDENT
You’re listening to bbclearningenglish.com.

Finn
And we’re talking about binomials. And if you were listening carefully at the beginning of the show you might have noticed that we used a couple of binominals right at the start. Short and sweet was one of them – it means simple, quick and useful.

Alice
Short and sweet or: quick and dirty. That’s another binomial with a similar meaning: quick and dirty means simple, short and basic.

Finn
And another similar one is: cheap and cheerful.

Alice
So, three binomials there you can use to describe something as quick, simple and basic.

Finn
Now let’s hear today’s expressions again.  

Alice
Aches and pains.

Finn
It describes body pains that aren’t serious.

Alice
Sick and tired.

Finn
Fed up, bored and angry.

Alice
Bit by bit.

Finn
To describe slow change. And to say something is simple, short and basic we had three binomials:

Alice
Short and sweet; quick and dirty; cheap and cheerful.

Finn
Thank you Alice: And now it’s quiz time. Number 1. Choose the correct answer: I’m learning French. It’s difficult, but I’m getting better a) bit by bit b) bit by little c) bit and bit.

Alice
And the answer is: a) bit by bit.

Finn
Number 2. Sarah fell over and hit her eye yesterday. Today it’s a) blue and black b) black and blue c) black and white.

Alice
And the answer is: b) black and blue.

Finn
Ouch. And finally, number 3. At only one minute long, the presentation was a) sweet and short b) cheerful and cheap or c) quick and dirty.

Alice
And the answer is: c) quick and dirty.

Finn
And that brings us almost to the end of the programme.

Alice
But before we go, here’s a cheap and cheerful tip for remembering vocabulary: play games. Making and playing a simple card game where you match up the beginning and ends of binomials will really help you to remember them.

Finn
That's right. And there’s more about this at BBC Learning English dot com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both
Goodbye!

Download

You can download 6 Minute Vocabulary from our Unit 5 Downloads page (size 8.39MB). Remember, you can also subscribe to the podcast version.  

So, what is the best binomial to describe the picture of the 'SALE' sign? It is cheap and cheerful.

End of Session 1

Well done - that's the end of the first session in this unit. We hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Mr Christmas.

We heard lots of sentences with must and have to. In Session 2, we're going to learn how to use them.

Session Grammar

  • Coming up in Session 2: we explore must and have to in more detail, looking at form, meaning and use

Session Vocabulary

  • aches and pains
    general body pains that aren’t serious

    cheap and cheerful
    simple, basic and often inexpensive

    short and sweet
    quick and simple

    black and blue
    sore and bruised

    quick and dirty
    short, simple and basic

    bit by bit
    gradually; a small amount at a time