Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Word Pairs "give-and-take" & More! ??‍??‍? English Vocabulary with JenniferESL

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Certain expressions can make your speech sound more natural, more conversational. Do you know these word pairs?

Know something inside and out

Wait and see

Every now and then

Touch and go

Up and down



We call these word pairs because we have two words that are paired with the conjunction "and."

We always say these words in the same order. We say "inside out" not "outside in."

"Wait and see" not "see and wait."

Usually it's easier to understand a new expression when you hear it or see it in context.

Let me read you a story, and you can guess the meaning of each expression based on how I used it. Okay?

What does "back-and-forth" refer to?

The answer is B "discussion."

What does it mean to know something inside and out?

The answer is C "thoroughly."

What does "give-and-take" refer to?

The answer is B "compromised." What does it mean to wait and see?

The answer is a "be patient and find out later."

What does "touch-and-go" refer to?

The answer is C "uncertain and risky."

What does "up and down" refer to?

The answer is A "sometimes healthy and sometimes unhealthy."

What does it mean when something happens every now and then?

The answer is C "from time to time."

How did you do? Do you remember all those word pairs with "and"? Try to recall them.


forth. Back-and-forth.

We often use this expression as a noun.

It refers to a lot of talk, a lot of discussion,

as in, there was a lot of back and forth before we reached an agreement.

Know something inside and...

out. If you know something inside and out, you know it really well. You know it thoroughly.

You know it completely.

This expression is similar to knowing something forwards and backwards.

Have you heard of that one?

But usually we know a subject or field inside and out, and in contrast,

we may know a book, a report,

a speech, or something else we read forwards and backwards.

At least, that's how I make the distinction between the two.


take. We use give-and-take as a noun, and it refers to a compromise.

You have to give a little in order to take a little.

If you're in a relationship, that's not fair or

satisfying, then you might complain and say, "There's no give-and-take." Or "There's very little give-and-take."

Wait and...

see. Wait and see. When you want to express the need to be patient,

although you really want to know the answer or the outcome as soon as possible,

you say, "We'll have to wait and see." Or "We'll just have to wait and see."

This expression is often used with "have to."

Touch and...

go. Touch and go. This is a bit of an odd expression.

But it refers to an uncertain situation that involves risk.

You can do an online search to find out the origin of this expression.

Touch and go. But I think it has something to do with

ships and

carriages coming close to having an accident.

But they were able to touch and then go ahead and continue their journey.

So, for example, maybe they came close to hitting against a rock or hitting the ocean floor,

but it was touch and go.

They were able to avoid it. So "touch and go" is an uncertain situation with some risk.

You heard an example in the story, so a new business venture can be touch and go.

And the condition of a sick or very badly injured hospital patient can be touch and go.

Often we use this expression with the verb "to be," as in, "It was touch-and-go for a while."

Or "It's been touch and go."

Up and...

down. Up and down. This is an easy word pair to remember because "up" is the opposite of "down."

"Up and down" can have a literal meaning as in jumping up and down.

But it can also have a figurative meaning, as in success and failure,

increases and decreases,

being happy and then being sad, being healthy and then being unhealthy.

A business owner can say, "Business has been up and down."

We can say about our friend John that things with John have been up and down.

If someone knows you've been through a difficult time recently and asks, "How have you been?"

you might respond honestly and say,

"Up and down, I guess. Some days are harder than others."

Every now and...

then. Now and then. Every now and then. When something happens every now and then, it happens occasionally,

from time to time.

Whenever I hear the phrase "every now and then,"

I automatically think of the lyrics to "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. If you don't know the song, you can find it online.

She's sings, "Every now and then I fall apart."

So she's not doing really well without the one that she loves, and from time to time she falls apart.

We'll end here. I'd like to challenge you to take two expressions and create your own examples.

Post them in the comments and I'll offer corrections as time allows.

You can help each other by suggesting edits if you think they're necessary. Okay?

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The Description of Word Pairs "give-and-take" & More! ??‍??‍? English Vocabulary with JenniferESL