ebb and flow

Ebbs and flows (Meaning and Usage)

The phrase “Ebbs and flows”(or ebb and flow) means that things can move from a good situation to a bad situation. The main idea is that things go up and things go down and are constantly changing like a river. 

Ebb means that the water moves away from the land and flow means that the water rises or moves toward the land.

This idiom in English comes from water but it really uses water as a metaphor for life.  Business, Politics, Relationships, and Sports games are just some contexts of when you use ebb and flow.

The game continues to ebb and flow, with one team attacking and then the other team.

Sales continue to ebb and flow. 

They enjoyed how the conversation ebbed and flowed.

The main idea of ebb and flow is that things are in a constant state of change, nothing stands still and you need to understand that.

“Ebbs and flows” or “Ebb and flow”

Both “Ebbs and flows” or “Ebb and flow” are in common use in English. “Ebb and flow” is more common in written English and sounds a little bit more formal.

Other ways to say ebbs and flows

The ups and downs

Move continuously

Go back and forth