Using Collocation to Ace The IELTS – Key Word: Difference

Using Collocation To Ace The IELTS – Key Word- Difference
Using Collocation To Ace The IELTS – Key Word- Difference


Adjective + Difference

big, broad, considerable, dramatic, enormous, great, huge, large, major, profound, radical, real, sharp, substantial, vast, wide

A little extra care makes a big difference.

I noticed a real difference in his attitude.

basic, essential, fundamental | crucial, important, key, significant | clear, distinct, marked, notable, noticeable, obvious, striking | minor, slight, subtle

national, regional | age, class, cultural, ethnic, gender, genetic, physical, psychological, racial, sex, social | historical, ideological, political



Ex 1. Common adjective collocations

Use the following adjectives in these sentences:

fundamental               irreconcilable              no

real                                    striking                        subtle

  1. I couldn’t tell the two paintings apart until an expert pointed out the very ___________ differences between them.
  2. I don’t think Charles and Edward will ever see eye-to-eye on anything again. Over the years ___________ differences of opinion have developed between them.
  3. Please give generously to our charity. A donation of just £1 can make a___________ difference to the quality of life of children in some of the poorest countries in the world.
  4. There are ___________ differences between the capital and the rest of the country. The rich lifestyle of the area around the city is in sharp contrast to the poverty of the rural areas.
  5. It makes ___________ difference to me whether she goes or stays. It doesn’t really affect me.
  6. The ___________ difference between you and me is that you like spending money and I like saving it!

Ex 2. Match the two halves of these sentences:

  1. Putting in central heating made
  2. There’s a substantial difference
  3. Although there were marked differences on how to spend the money
  4. There’s a big difference between
  5. When my brother said sorry for what he had said about me,

a          between the opinions of men and women on the issue of abortion.

b          a world of difference to my parents’ house.

c          the service on the two airlines.

d          it made all the difference.

e          the finance group made a decision in a surprisingly short time.

Verb + Difference

make difference

The new central heating has made an enormous difference

emphasize, focus on, stress, underline + difference

We should be focusing on what we have in common rather than emphasizing our differences

appreciate, be aware of, know, notice, see, spot, tell + difference


Could you spot the difference between these two photos?


Ex 3. Match the two halves of these sentences:

  1. I used margarine instead of butter, so
  2. This coffee is half the price of that one and yet
  3. As humans we can
  4. It looks and feels exactly like a genuine five-pound note, but I’m sure anybody with a trained eye will
  5. The medical treatment he’s receiving seems to be working and

a          you can certainly see a difference. He doesn’t look so tired and he has some colour in his cheeks.

b          spot the difference immediately.

c          I hope nobody notices the difference.

d          you really can’t tell the difference. They taste almost the same.

e          detect small differences in smell but a dog’s nose is much more sensitive.

Go back and underline all the verb + difference collocations.

Difference + preposition

~ between

There’s a big difference between reading about skiing and doing it yourself.

~ from

He was very aware of his difference from the other children.

~ in The difference in price is not very significant.

~ of a crucial difference of emphasis

~ with There is one key difference with the earlier version of the software. 


Ex 4. Complete the sentences below with a suitable preposition:

  1. There are significant differences _______ the legal systems of England and Scotland.
  2. The difference _______ price is so small it’s not worth arguing about.
  3. He doesn’t earn much so the extra money will make a big difference _______ him.
  4. If you’re thinking of a holiday _______ a difference, why not try Finland?

1.         “All the difference’ means that there was a complete change:

I’ve decided to stay on the committee.

> Great! That’ll make all the difference! We didn’t want to lose your experience.

2.         ‘Differences’ can mean ‘arguments’:

Let’s forget our differences and be friends again.

My mother asked us to settle our differences.

We’ve had our differences in the past, but we’re friends again.

3.         Note this common question:

He’s speaking Dutch, not German! Don’t you know the difference?



Ex 1:

1.subtle            2. irreconcilable           3. real              4. striking             5. no                6. fundamental

Ex 2:

l-b        2-a       3-e       4-c       5-d

Ex 3:

l-c        2-d       3-e       4-b       5-a

Ex 4:

  1. between           2. in          3. to                 4. with

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Syed Monif is a professional content marketer and IELTS Trainer by day, and a bookworm by night, and sometimes during the day too! He currently works on creating extremely user-friendly and engaging content for the online portal His work involves creating and editing content while making sure they're super interesting and easy to read! And also as a master procrastinator, right now he's probably googling something so arbitrary like 'How rich is Scrooge McDuck?' without realizing that his lunch break is almost over.

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