In this The English We Speak podcast: Neil has lots of ‘bits and bobs’ to pack for his holiday, but Feifei thought Neil was taking someone called ‘Bob’ with him. What does Neil mean?
Feifei: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak. I’m Feifei.
Neil: (Sounding distracted) Yeah, Hi, I’m err, Neil.
Feifei: Neil, what are you doing? Can we record this programme please?
Neil: Yes, sure, just a second. (Talking to himself) I still need to call the bank, turn off mobile data roaming, finish this script, buy mosquito repellent…
Feifei: What are you talking about? We need to record this programme!
Neil: Yes, I know, just a minute. (Carrying on talking to himself) need to pick up the Euros, check-in, pack the bag…
Feifei: Neil! What on earth are you talking about?
Neil: Sorry Feifei. I’m trying to sort out some bits and bobs before I go on holiday tomorrow.
Feifei: Bits and bobs? What has Bob done? Why do you need to sort out Bob before you go on holiday?
Neil: No, no. I don’t mean I need to sort out ‘Bob’. The word ‘Bob’ here is not a person.
Feifei: It’s not a person? So what does ‘bits and bobs’ mean then?
Neil: In English, we use ‘bits and bobs’ to mean small things, or many different types of little jobs.
Feifei: Ah, so what you meant was you had a lot of small things to sort out before you go on holiday?
Neil: Yes, that’s right. Now let’s hear some examples.
- A: What are you doing tomorrow?
- B: Nothing special, just a few bits and bobs.
- Mum: Alex, can you tidy up all your bits and bobs?
- Son: OK.
- A: Have you been to the shop round the corner?
- B: No, I haven’t. Is it good?
- A: Aw, it’s great – it sells all sorts of interesting bits and bobs.
Neil: Do remember ‘bits and bobs’ is an informal saying so we wouldn’t use it in a formal situation.
Feifei: Neil, what about the phrase ‘bits and pieces’? Is it the same as ‘bits and bobs’?
Neil: Yes, ‘bits and pieces’ is another informal way of saying ‘lots of small things’.
Feifei: I see, so they are the same, thank you. (Panicking) Oh no, it’s 7 o’clock. I need to go!
Neil: But we need to finish recording the programme…
Feifei: You can finish it Neil. I have to get all the bits and bobs for the party tonight before the shops close! Bye…
Neil: Err, OK. Well, maybe we can just finish it tomorrow? (Talking to himself again) I have got the visa, still need buy travel insurance and a guidebook. Ooh, must remember to ring my mum…
The English We Speak – Bits and bobs Transcript Video
Source: BBC Learning EnglishMore Series for You: