Can word combination "without strain" be used in figurative sense, for example "He speaks English without strain." and is it literary?
Just about anything can be used in the figurative sense in English, and I heartily encourage you to partake of this license — provided, of course, that your figures of speech are apt and not themselves strained. The one you mentioned is fine, however; that said, I still would probably have used difficulty instead of strain there.
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