English Two Word Phrases

In spoken English, we often use two-word phrases, such as “bye-bye”. Here are 15 of the most common two word phrases, with more in the quiz below.

so-so = OK: “How was the meeting?” “So-so – it was nice to see everyone, but we didn’t get anything decided.”

on-off = not constant: “They have a very on-off relationship.”

love-hate = having feelings for someone / something which swing from love to hate: “I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with my car.”

mish-mash = when things are combined together and so appear untidy: “The new policy is a bit of a mish-mash of the last two policies we’ve had.”

riff-raff = quite a ‘snobby’ expression to describe people you think are lower in class than you: “Lets send out invitations for the party. We don’t want the town’s riff-raff turning up and eating all the food.”

chit-chat = small talk or unimportant conversation: “He asked us to stop our chit-chat and get on with our work.”

knick-knack = an ornament: “She’s got a lot of knick-knacks – I’m always afraid I’m going to break one.”

ship-shape = everything in its right place: “I want to leave the place ship-shape when we go on holiday.”

zig-zag = diagonally: “He lost control of the car and it zig-zagged across the road.”

ding-dong = an argument: “They’ve had a bit of a ding-dong and they’re not talking to each other at the moment.”

higgledy-piggledy = in a mess: “That bookshelf is all higgledy-piggledy!”

wishy-washy = weak opinion, argument or person: “His argument is a bit wishy-washy – I don’t get the impression that he really knows what he wants to think.”

easy-peasey = something that children often say to emphasise how easy something is: “This program is easy-peasey – I understood it in half an hour!”

flip-flops = rubber sandals with a thong that goes between your big and second toe: “I lived in my flip-flops when I was staying on the beach.”

see-saw = something that goes up and down (like the piece of wood in a playground – a child sits on each end and these ends go up an down): “The English pound has see-sawed against the American dollar for the last two weeks.”

Now try the two word phrases quiz!

Level: Pre-intermediate and above

1. She wore a pair of flip __ to the beach.
2. There was a terrible ding __ in the market today.
3. I'm afraid I made a bit of a boo __
4. Woo __ ! We're going to Paris for the weekend!
5. She's such a snob and thinks that the people in her street are riff __
6. The two sisters have a bit of a love __ relationship.
7. They had a bit of a sing __ around the campfire.
8. He's a nice guy, but I find him a bit __ washy.
9. Night __ , sleep well!
10. Her car is always in __ top condition.

And, finally…

Watch the video!

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2 thoughts on “English Two Word Phrases”

  1. Hi,
    How do you call expressions with two words like :
    thick and thins
    bits and pieces
    down and out
    wheeling and dealings

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