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ESL Teacher Blog
The teacher's point of view: thoughts, observations and ideas about ESL teaching.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Multi-word Expressions: Plural Binomials

Binomials are phrases consisting of two words of the same form connected by a conjunction (and, but, or) or a preposition (in, to, by).

Binomials are a sub-group of collocations, words that naturally go together:
ladies and gentlemen
arts and crafts

on and off

lost and found
wait and see
side by side
face to face
dead or alive
hand in hand
The word order in binomials is irreversible:
fruit and vegetables (not *’vegetables and fruit’)
The form of the words making up a binomial is fixed as well - singular nouns can’t be changed into plural and vice versa.
Here are some binomials consisting of nouns that are both plural:
boys and girls
hugs and kisses

pots and pans

peas and carrots
aches and pains
signs and symptoms
vitamins and supplements
ghosts and goblins
cuts and scrapes

rules and regulations

goods and services

stars and stripes (American flag)
Some binomials are idiomatic:
dos and don’ts - things you must and mustn’t do in a particular situation
This workshop will focus on the dos and don’ts of a job interview.
heads or tails - said when spinning a coin (the tails side doesn’t have the picture of a person) to decide a choice
Let’s flip the coin to see who will ride in the front seat of the car. Heads or tails, what will you choose?
rags to riches - from being poor to becoming rich
She went from rags to riches when she married the oil tycoon.
pros and cons - the advantages and disadvantages of something
Home schooling children has its pros and cons.
ups and downs - successes and failures
I had my ups and downs when I was trying to lose weight.
the ins and outs - all the details needed to make a decision in a difficult situation
I need some financial advice to learn the ins and outs of this mortgage program.
the rights and wrongs - fair and unfair aspects of something
They discussed the rights and wrongs of the military action in the region.
the nuts and bolts - basic practical details
Let’s deal with the nuts and bolts of the project first.
facts and figures - exact information
Before we make a decision, we need some more facts and figures.
bits and pieces - small objects and items
My son always has lots of bits and pieces in his jacket pockets.
pins and needles - slight sharp pains in a part of the body that stayed in an uncomfortable position for too long
I had pins and needles in my hands after carrying heavy shopping bags.
be on pins and needles - wait for something nervously or anxiously
I was on pins and needles all morning waiting for the phone call from my boss.
the birds and the bees - basic facts about sex and pregnancy as explained to children
“Mommy, where did I come from?”
“Let me tell you about the birds and the bees.”
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:53 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment


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