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Fun And Games - 'Doubleton' Phrases

Quiz playing is a wonderful way to increase your knowledge of English as a Second Language. Remember that all of our ESL quizzes have titles that are both friendly and technical at the same time… In the case of this quiz you might like to tell your friends about “Fun and Games” but no doubt your teachers will talk about the “Doubleton Phrases quiz”! If you hear a technical term and you want to find a quiz about the subject then just look through the list of quiz titles until you find what you need.

English contains lots of 'doubleton phrases' (i.e. with two elements in them, for 'strength') - such, indeed, as 'fun and games'. How many doubleton phrases do you know?

  1. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    ' (...) And now, ... ... , will you please welcome tonight's star performer, who is going to delight us with a selection of the ... ... of Cole Porter?'
    The motto here is 'ladies first'; and even in the case of Cole Porter (who usually wrote both), the words to a song more often come before the music.
  2. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    'I must have been about eleven years old when my mother told me about the ... ... .'
    What most of us know as The Facts of Life (i.e. 'where babies come from') have many names in English, and doubtless in other languages. One classic way of beginning to explain them to a child might be by pointing out that animals and insects, like us, have life-cycles within nature, including definite stages like making nests and attracting mates. Hence the 'birds and bees' phrase, referring to common creatures that you might often see in your garden. They have the added advantage that the words themselves are easy and both start with 'B'.
  3. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    'There seems to have been an awful lot of ... ... about them changing the day of our dustbin collection.'
    This is a classic phrase: perhaps you have a similar expression in your own language?
  4. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    A full athletics meeting will have a balanced programme of ... ... events.
    'Running and jumping' (in that order) are all very well, but what about events that involve throwing (discus, javelin, shot-put etc.)? 'Track and field' is the traditional phrase.
  5. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    'The raid on the jewellery shop was quick, and probably terrifying, but the robbers were away in barely five minutes with about £1 million-worth of goods. This was a classic ... ... .'
    It is the 'assonance' of the '-a-' vowels that helps hold the phrase together. If either of these words is unfamiliar to you, please look it/them up: they are both very useful.
    It is less fashionable now, but still widely-heard to describe something that is good / impressive / enjoyable etc. as 'smashing' (this does not, in fact, carry any suggestion of breaking anything ~ except, perhaps, the odd record). It would now sound rather over-the-top to describe a boiled egg as 'smashing', even though you would have had to break its top to eat what's inside.
    'Grab' means more or less the same as 'snatch': to seize hold, hard and quickly, of something, often in an emergency ('She reached out and grabbed the handle'). In informal English, an office worker (for instance) with little time for lunch might 'grab a bite to eat'.
    (We always felt there was a space in the market for an Italian company, selling pannini etc., to call itself 'Grabassani' [ = 'grab a sarnie', i.e. a sandwich]).
  6. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    'Motorists are advised to be careful tomorrow morning, because of the localised risk of ... ... .'
    This, once again, is a classic weather-forecaster's phrase ~ especially in the autumn.
    'Mist' always comes first in the phrase, perhaps because it is thinner and/or comes in smaller patches.
  7. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    Before the days of computers, people used to write to one another proper letters using ... ... .
    Another classic phrase; sometimes people who needed to write such a traditional letter would say 'I need to put pen to paper'. A less formal note might be made with 'pencil and paper', perhaps 'on the back of an envelope' (e.g. for doing a rough calculation, or writing a quick reminder; we speak of a 'back-of-an-envelope figure', meaning a rough price that someone has calculated for a job).
  8. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    If you don't fancy a 'sarnie' (sandwich), how about some ... ... ?
    This is another true British classic, and note which way round it goes (not like Answer 3). You will find you are never very far from a fish-&-chip shop in any British town or city.
  9. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    'I wouldn't go outside today unless you absolutely have to : it's raining ... ... this morning!'
    There seems no logical reason for this phrase, but it has been used for centuries. Many other languages have colourful ways of describing the experience; how about yours?
  10. Choose the answer which best fills the gap/s in good, clear accurate English.
    There were a large number of ... ... at Martin's retirement party.
    This would be the usual way of referring to these two categories of people. (Some of them may be both, of course ... i.e. colleagues who have also become good friends while they were working together!)

Author: Ian Miles

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