by Liz Walter
In my last post, I wrote about phrases containing the number one. Today I’m going to look at some common phrases with the number two.
If you put two and two together, you guess the truth about a situation because of something you have seen or heard. However, if your guess is wrong, especially by being more shocking or extreme than the truth, we say that you put two and two together and make five:
‘How did you know he was starting his own business?’ ‘I saw the new van outside his house and put two and two together.’
I couldn’t believe she thought I’d stolen the necklace. When she saw it in my room, she put two and two together and made five.
Another useful phrase (if a rather unpleasant image!) is kill two birds with one stone, which means to achieve two things at the same time:
I had to go into town for some shopping, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and visit Mr Sharp while I was there.
We use the phrase it takes two to tango to say that both people involved in a bad situation have at least some responsibility for it. We sometimes use the phrase to say that both people involved in a situation need to co-operate in order to achieve something. Still on a dancing theme, if someone has two left feet, they are extremely awkward and clumsy when they dance:
Don’t try to excuse his behaviour. I know his friend suggested the prank, but it takes two to tango.
We would like to negotiate a solution, but it takes two to tango.
It’s no good asking me to dance – I’ve got two left feet!
Kira and her friend are like two peas in a pod.
Jake is just as generous as his friend – they’re two of a kind.
We use the phrase That makes two of us! to show that we are in the same unpleasant situation as someone else, or that we have the same bad opinion about something. The phrase two can play at that game is used when someone has done something bad to you to say that you intend to do the same thing to them:
You’re bored? Well that makes two of us!
He’s been spreading rumours about me, but two can play at that game.
Finally, if you are in two minds about something, you can’t make a decision:
I’m in two minds over whether to take the job because although it’s more money, I’d have to move house.
As always, do feel free to suggest other phrases with ‘two’, and if you find this post useful, look out for the next one, which will cover some phrases with other numbers.