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Anonymous:This is a question about classification of English terms.
Is "Fixed expression" an umbrella term lumping together the following sub-terms?
5. Phrasal verb
All these are fixed expressions that have meanings that are different from the simple meanings of the words they contain. But how to differentiate them?
Are they all informal?
Thank you so much.
AnonymousIs "Fixed expression" an umbrella term lumping together the following sub-terms?I haven't used it that way. To me, a fixed expression is something that we ordinarily say in certain situations:
e.g. In meeting someone: How are you?
We are not asking about someone's state of health. It is just a common greeting.
Anonymousexpressions that have meanings that are different from the simple meanings of the words they containThat would be an idiom.
Now that's a horse of a different color.
He put a bug in my ear.
AnonymousAre they all informal?No. For example, phrasal verbs are used in all types of writing.
They have in common that the word order is special and cannot be disturbed.
However, "fixed expressions" are typically short, and some idioms are a bit longer.
He really went to town on that issue. This is an idiom, but I wouldn't call it a fixed expression.
There's nothing special about the phrase "went to town," and it can be used according to the dictionary definitions of the words.
But in this particular usage, we take it as having a special meaning, different from the dictionary meanings of the words.
I'll try to come up with the answer. I'd say this one is both an idiom and a fixed expression.
Similarly, "She came down with the flu."
As far as I know, these colocations can't be used according to their dictionary definitions, and you can't change the order, or substitute another preposition.
We can say, "She came down from the mountain," but not "She came down from the flu."
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