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Idiomatic pairs
Yvette from Madagascar writes:
  I've just learned about idioms like: here and there, on and on, peace and quiet etc. I think it's difficult to understand their meanings, so could you please give me a list of them and their meanings.
 
 
Roger Woodham replies:
 
There are many idiomatic pairs like these usually with the linking word of and in English. There are pairs of adverbs, pairs of nouns and identical/prepositional pairs like those you have listed, Yvette, as well as pairs of adjectives and pairs of verbs used as set phrases or idiomatically. I can only list a few of the most commonly used.
 
An idiom is a number of words which when taken together have a different meaning from the meaning of each individual word. This is what causes the difficulty. But idioms where there is some association with the original meaning are easier to understand than those where there is no association with the original meaning of the words.
 
Try to guess the meaning of the following, first by attempting to decipher them word for word. Then, check your understanding by reading examples of how they are used in context. Finally, check again against the explanations given.
 
noun pairs and verb pairs
 
Here are some common idiomatic pairs in English: peace and quiet, body and soul, life and limb, grin and bear it, bow and scrape, rant and rave
 
It's impossible to get any peace and quiet in this house with you two arguing all the time.
 
She puts body and soul into her work with the girl guides. She is an inspired leader.
 
You'll risk life and limb if you decide to go white-water rafting after such heavy rainfall.
 
I know this hotel isn't very good, but all the better accommodation is taken, so we'll just have to grin and bear it.
 
I've asked him politely already. Surely he doesn't want me to bow and scrape.
 
He was ranting and raving about the price of everything in Britain. Why doesn't he go and live abroad, if he's unhappy?
 
peace and quiet = a period of quiet and calm, often with: have/get/enjoy some
 
body and soul = physical and mental energy, as in: put body and soul into
 
life and limb = risk death or serious injury, as in: risk life and limb
 
grin and bear it = put up with something unpleasant because it cannot be changed
 
bow and scrape = show too much respect to someone
 
rant and rave = protest or complain in a loud and excited manner
 
adverbial pairs and adjectival pairs
 
Here are some examples: here and there, now and again, first and foremost, short and sweet, safe and sound, sick and tired
 
I could see a number of houses scattered here and there over the hillside.
 
How often do you see her now? ~ Every now and again. Not as regularly as I used to.
 
Why don't you get a job that pays more? ~ First and foremost because I really enjoy the job I'm doing.
 
I'll try and keep this short and sweet. I know you don't want to stay here longer than you need to.
 
Oh, I'm so glad to have you back home safe and sound. I was beginning to get worried about you.
 
I'm sick and tired of hearing your excuses. It's about time you did an honest day's work.
 
 
here and there: to or in several places
 
now and again: occasionally
 
first and foremost: most importantly
 
short and sweet: not too complicated, as in a speech, often with keep/make it
 
safe and sound: not harmed at all
 
sick and tired: extremely annoyed with someone, often with of hearing/listening
 
identical / prepositional pairs
 
Here are some examples: on and on, again and again, round and round, up and down, little by little, all in all
 
You needn't go on and on about needing a holiday. I know we haven't had a break for over a year now.
 
I've told you again and again to stop swearing in front of the children, but you take no notice.
 
We're not making any progress by arguing like this. We're just going round and round in circles. My head's beginning to go round and round.
 
How are you getting on now? ~ Oh, up and down, as usual. I have good days and bad days.
 
Little by little his heath improved and he was able to walk further and further each day.
 
All in all, it was a successful holiday in spite of some scary moments.
 
 
on and on: without pausing or stopping, usually with go
 
again and again: repeatedly
 
round and round: moving in circles or spinning, usually with go
 
little by little: gradually or slowly
 
all in all: taking everything into consideration
 
leaps and bounds
 
Leaps and bounds, Yvette, is really a prepositional idiom as it is always prefaced by the prepositions by or in. If you do something by leaps and bounds, then you are making rapid or spectacular progress:
 
I feel that my English is coming on in leaps and bounds now that I can understand idioms.
 
   
Peace and quiet
 
 
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