they go together like…

recently in a class a student asked if there is an expression in english that is similar to the spanish como uña y mugre which is used to refer to things that are always together.  the phrase translates into english as like fingernail and dirt or fingernail and filth (an extreme level of dirt), but neither is a common expression.

filthy fingernails

there are, however, various items that we pair up (put together in groups of two) in english to indicate that things go or work well together.

for example, they go together like…

a bunch of flamingos

birds of a feather 
a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
peanut butter and jelly (getty)
mashed potatoes and gravy
mashed potatoes and gravy (


hand in glove
hand in glove 

hand in glove is the title of this beloved song by the smiths

and we indicate the opposite; things that don’t go together well, with pairs like

oil and water together
oil and water
cats and dogs
cats and dogs (
fire and icef
fire and ice

fire and ice is the title of one of pat benatar‘s biggest hits

talladega nights: the legend of ricky bobby is a hilarious movie about nascar drivers. in this scene from the movie, ricky bobby (will ferrell), hershell (david koechner) from his pit crew and cal naughton jr. (john c. reilley) from his racing team are celebrating a ricky bobby victory that was aided (helped) by the unselfishness (altruism, generosity) of cal naughton jr.

waffles and possibly cocaine
is cocaine the secret to her perfect waffles?

naughton jr. explains

it’s always been like that. me and ricky since we were little kids, man. we go together like chinese food and chocolate pudding, let’s face it….we go together like cocaine and waffles.

ricky points out that these combinations don’t really go together and tries to prompt (direct, guide) him into the more obvious blend (mix, fusion) of peanut butter and jelly.  naughton, however, believes peanut butter and ladies is a more typical match.

hershell steps in (intervenes) to clear up (clarify) the confusion

tell u what, i’m gonna settle this thing. let’s just get ourselves a whole mess of cocktails, get drunk and work this thing out.

settle and work out both refer to finding a solution. a whole mess of is an idiom that is the same as a lot of.

fun elt practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

do u use examples like these in your language to describe things that go together well or poorly?  share them under leave a reply


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