Using Collocation to Boost Your IELTS Score – Key Word: attention

Key word: attention 

1          Verb collocations

Use the correct form of these verbs:

need              pay          get           have       hold

  1. Children often misbehave in order to _________ attention.
  2. The play was disappointing. It didn’t _________ my attention for very long.
  3. Can I _________ your attention, please? I have an important announcement to make.
  4. Babies _________ a lot of care and attention.
  5. As a caring society I think we need to _________ more attention to the elderly.

First underline the verb collocations in the following. Then divide them into two groups: those meaning ‘give attention to something’ and those meaning ‘something gets your attention’.

  1. Don’t pay any attention to what Lyn is saying. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
  2. There’s no point trying to attract the waiter’s attention. He’s not interested!
  3. There are a number of important issues that we need to direct our attention to.
  4. Something bright caught the baby’s attention and she reached out and tried to touch it.
  5. When I’ve finished studying the European market, I intend turning my attention to South East Asia.

2          Common adjective collocations

Complete the sentences below with the following:

close                                immediate

insufficient                  meticulous

undivided                    unwelcome

  1. If you just wait till I’ve finished writing this letter, I’ll give you my full and ______ attention.
  2. Pay_________ attention to everything I say. It’s important that you follow the instructions.
  3. 80 people drowned when the ferry sank. The owners had paid _________ attention to safety.
  4. Let’s sit in that corner – away from everyone else. We don’t want to attract _________ attention.
  5. His paintings are so realistic. He pays _________ attention to detail.
  6. Sorry, I’ve got to rush. I’ve just had a telephone call which requires my _________ attention.

3          Verb phrases with prepositions

Complete the expression in colour with a suitable preposition:

  1. The fire inspector called our attention _________ the fact that some members of staff were not following the correct procedures.
  2. If we don’t bring this _________ the attention of the police, nothing will be done.
  3. The war diverted people’s attention away _________ the country’s economic problems.
  4. We’re organising a campaign to draw people’s attention_________ the harmful effects of food additives.
  5. The election is in four months. This tax cut is obviously designed to distract public attention _________ from the government’s failures.
  6. Last night’s documentary helped to focus world attention _________ the plight of the Somali refugees.


1.         In 2-5 we can also say painstaking attention.

2.         Someone is the ‘centre of attention’ when everybody wants to see or talk to them.

For example:

He’s a rock star so he’s the centre of attention everywhere he goes.

3.         Note the preposition in the following phrase:

My attention wasn’t on my work. My mind was elsewhere.

4.         If something escapes your attention, you do not notice it:

The fact that the company was operating without a licence had not escaped the attention of the authorities.



Ex 1:

  1. get     2. hold    3. have     4. need    5. pay

Giving attention: 1-pay;    3-direct to;     5-turn to

Getting attention: 2-attract;    4-caught

Ex 2:

1 undivided      2. close          3. insufficient       4. unwelcome

5 meticulous     6. immediate

Ex 3:

  1. to       2. to         3. from       4. to         5. away        6. on

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