Use Collocation to Increase Your IELTS Score – Key Word: story


1          Verb + story

Use the correct form of these verbs:

believe                    check

make up                read

sell                          stick to

  1. He says he was at home at the time of the crime. We’ll need to _____________ his story. See if you can find someone who can back it up.
  2. Your mother will never _____________ that story about you missing the last bus. Just tell her the truth!
  3. No, I didn’t _____________ the story_____________ I’ve told you the whole thing is true!
  4. When mum and dad ask us how the window was broken we must all_____________ the same story if we want them to believe us!
  5. In my opinion, criminals should not be allowed to make a fortune by _____________ their stories to the newspapers.
  6. Did your parents _____________ you stories before you went to bed?

2          Common adjective collocations

Complete the sentences with these adjectives:

complicated                 full

gripping                      same old

likely                            true

  1. That TV series about a doctor working in Africa in the 1920’s is based on a_____________ story.
  2. I don’t think that we’ve heard the_____________ story of the Prime Minister’s resignation yet. I think there’s a lot more to come.
  3. He said he found the video recorder under a tree! That’s a _____________ story! How can he expect anybody to believe that!
  4. It was such a _____________ story that the children wouldn’t leave until they had heard how it ended.
  5. I’ll tell you about my childhood some other time. It’s a long and _____________ story and I don’t have time to go into it all just now.
  6. It’s the_____________ story wherever you go – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The world doesn’t change.

Go back and underline all the useful collocations in exercises 1 and 2.

3          Noun + of + story

Complete the sentences below with these nouns:

moral              part      point               side

  1. I couldn’t make much sense of the story. In fact, I couldn’t see the_____________ of it at all.
  2. We’ve all read about it in the papers, but before we make any judgements I think we should hear his_____________ of the story first.
  3. The main lesson or _____________ of the story is that crime doesn’t pay.
  4. Some crucial facts have been missed out. We’ve only heard _____________ of the story!

4          Noun + noun collocations

Complete the sentences below with the following nouns and noun phrases:

cock-and-bull              hard-luck               success

rags-to-riches              love                         real-life

  1. Lots of companies have gone out of business during the recession. The Green Shoe company is a rare_____________ story.
  2. I can always tell when Pete is lying. He gave me some _____________ story about helping a friend decorate his living room – a highly unlikely story! Pete has never used a paint brush in his life!
  3. The beggar told me some _____________ story about being cheated out of his inheritance.
  4. The film was based on the _____________ story of General Patton.
  5. He was brought up in poverty in a Glasgow slum, but through hard work and a bit of luck he became the millionaire owner of a huge supermarket chain. It’s a classic _____________ story.
  6. Why do all _____________ stories have happy endings?


1.         A story is also a report in a newspaper:

The Times has a story about that bribery scandal.

2.         If we say that something is ‘only a story’, we mean that it is not true.

3.         We say ‘to cut a long story short’ when we don’t want to go into details.

4.         We talk about detective, horror, ghost and love stories.



Ex 1:  1. check    2. believe    3. make the story up    4. stick to    5. selling   6. read

Ex 2:   l. true    2. full    3. likely    4. gripping    5. complicated   6. same old

Ex 3:  1. point    2. side    3. moral    4. part

Ex 4: 1. success    2. cock-and-bull    3. hard-luck    4. real- life    5. rags-to-riches    6. love

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