For example:

Once in a while

Now and then

Dictionaries don't provide labeling for every phrase in terms of whether it's formal, informal, slang, etc.


Once in while refers to something you do occasionally, but not regularly.


Once in a while I go hiking.

Now and then refers to something you do occasionally, but periodically.


We go to the movies now and then, but not as often as we used to.

Hope this helps.

  • @rose : online dictionaries do mention whether a phrases is formal or informal ( Macmillan , the free dictionary ,ect.) – EngFan Feb 3 '17 at 9:13

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