Have you and a friend ever had a conversation where you used phrases such as it cost an arm and a leg, or when you simply could not agree,
and you agreed to disagree? Well, if you have, you have been using fixed phrases.
Fixed phrases are when the wording cannot be changed without sounding odd or a little off to native speakers, like chalk and cheese meaning two people are complete polar opposites. If you exchange one of the words, the meaning becomes muddled, and runs the risk of making very little sense.
When it comes to fixed expressions we often use ‘and’ to combine two words.
Some fine examples being, peace and quiet, pick and choose, come and go, knife and fork, black and white, all commonly used everyday expressions in the English language. A common feature of fixed phrases joined by ‘and’ is that the first or last sounds in the two words are the same, e.g. prim and proper, or doom and gloom. Fixed expressions are such
an ingrained part of the English language that it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint them, as they are spoken so instinctively by native speakers. Of course, you do not need to spend hours memorising fixed phrases off by heart, but you can start to incorporate some of the more commonly used ones in your spoken English.
Do you know anyone who has progressed immensely at something in a short period of time? Well, if you do, they advanced in leaps and bounds, meaning rapidly showing massive
improvement. What about when you go out shopping but only pick up a few bits and pieces, or bits and bobs? Either of these are really another way of sayingyou bought some small items of no great value. What time did you get up at today, was it bright and early? When you went to school, did you prefer to learn facts and figures or were you more of a creative thinker? Have you ever been asked where you were born and bred or how you make your bread and butter, well, what you are really being asked is where did you grow up and how do you make a living?
So if you are sick and tired of using the same standard English time and time again, then next time you have a conversation why not try some fixed phrases out for size. By incorporating some fixed phrases, little by little you will not only sound more like a native speaker, but you will also gain a greater understanding of the inner workings of the English language and
people. When we learn a language, we not only learn a new way of communicating we also learn a new way of thinking, if you will.