Fixed pairs

There are a number of pairs of words which are joined by and or or which always or nearly always occur in the same order. For example, you always say bread and butter. Don't say `butter and bread'. The following lists show some of the most common pairs for nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs.

Nouns:

  • bits and pieces
  • board and lodging (BRIT)
  • body and soul
  • bread and butter
  • cup and saucer
  • fish and chips
  • flesh and blood
  • food and water
  • friend or foe
  • give and take
  • hands and knees
  • health and safety
  • heart and soul
  • heaven and earth
  • kith and kin
  • knife and fork
  • land and sea
  • law and order
  • nearest and dearest
  • north and south
  • nuts and bolts
  • odds and ends
  • pen and paper
  • peace and quiet
  • pros and cons
  • room and board (AM)
  • salt and pepper
  • trial and error
  • ups and downs
Together, he and I shovelled all the bits and pieces back in the tin box.
Tim crawled on hands and knees out of the water.

Adjectives:

  • alive and well
  • black and white
  • born and bred
  • drunk and disorderly
  • good or bad
  • hot and bothered
  • hot and cold
  • ready and waiting
  • right or wrong
  • safe and sound
  • sick and tired
It's nice to know he is alive and well.
I'm sick and tired of being pushed around.

Adverbs:

  • back and forth
  • backwards and forwards
  • black and blue
  • bright and early
  • by and large
  • cut and dried
  • far and wide
  • few and far between
  • first and foremost
  • here and now
  • high and low
  • in and out
  • loud and clear
  • now and then
  • out and about
  • really and truly
  • rightly or wrongly
  • short and sweet
  • to and fro
  • up and down
  • well and truly
The plough is drawn backwards and forwards across the field.
They began jumping up and down.

Verbs:

  • come and go
  • ebb and flow
  • fetch and carry
  • forgive and forget
  • huff and puff
  • rant and rave
  • twist and turn
  • wait and see
  • wax and wane
  • wine and dine
People are ceaselessly coming and going.
Fish react to the state of the tide as it ebbs and flows.
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