There are many common opposites in English. Opposites are words that have two different meanings. We talk about opposites every day. They’re a good way to talk about different things. They’re also a great way to compare (talk about differences between two or more) things.

What are some of the most common opposites in English? These opposite pairs will help you speak English more fluently. They’re good to know! Let’s dive in (get going)…

Pass or Fail (ˈpæs ˈɔːr ˈfeɪl)

Pass or fail are common opposites in English in school. It’s what we use to talk about grades (scores on tests). If you take a test, you can pass or fail it. To pass is to succeed. To fail is to not do well. Whether (if) you pass or fail is important in school. How you do on a test shows how well you’re doing in school. Once you’re out of (finished with) school, passing and failing doesn’t matter so much anymore!

For example:

  • Do you know how you did on Friday’s test? Do you think you passed or failed?
  • I passed my math test last week. A lot of people in the class failed, though, which is bad.

Good or Bad (ˈɡʊd ˈɔːr ˈbæd)

Good and bad is a very simple (easy) and common pair. It’s one of the most basic opposites we have. Lots of stories boil down to (have a central point) good versus bad. Many stories have a good character and a bad character. These two characters usually fight each other. Good means to be morally (idea of how people should act) right. Bad is said to be morally wrong.

For example:

  • I read a book where the characters weren’t good or bad, but somewhere in between. They were very human.
  • When you play video games, do you like to play good characters or bad characters?

Rain or Shine (ˈreɪn ˈɔːr ˈʃaɪn)

This pair of opposites in English has to do with the weather. It’s also a common idiom in English. These two words are usually said together. Rain refers to when it’s raining. Shine refers to the sun is out, or “shining”. People will often say “rain or shine,” and mean something will happen no matter what. What can you always do, rain or shine?

For example:

  • It looks like it’s going to rain on Saturday. But we are going hiking, rain or shine!
  • Those people are incredible. Rain or shine, they’re always outside helping people.

True or False (ˈtruː ˈɔːr ˈfɔːls)

Another opposite pair is true and false. If something is true, it means it is correct. If it’s false, it is wrong. Sometimes when you take a test, there will be a true and false section (part). It will ask you to say if something is correct or not. Have you ever had to say if something was true or false?

For example:

  • Some of the true or false questions on the test were really hard! I wasn’t sure about some of them.
  • Does this statement sound true to you? Or is there something false in it?

Hot or Cold (ˈhɑːt ˈɔːr ˈkoʊld)

Our last common pair of opposites is hot and cold. Hot and cold can be used to describe a lot of things. These words can be used to talk about the weather. They can also be used to talk about temperature. They can also be used to talk about someone’s personality or temperament.  Hot and cold may be the most common opposite pairs we use.

For example:

  • She likes cold weather, but her boyfriend likes hot weather. It’s hard for them to find somewhere to go on vacation!
  • My father is really hot and cold. Sometimes he wants one thing, and the next time he wants the opposite! It’s very confusing!

Are you familiar with any of these opposites in English? Do you use them on a regular basis? Let us know in the comments below!

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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and really loves when the weather gets cold.

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