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


1          Verb + criticism

Use the correct form of these verbs:

aim                  resent

take                 single out for

  1. I’m very angry at the report on my teaching. I deeply ______________ the inspector’s criticism.
  2. The manager is very sensitive. He just can’t ______________ criticism. I don’t know how he got the job.
  3. The whole team was responsible for our poor performance. I don’t understand why I was______________ criticism by the manager.
  4. Criticism has been levelled at the government for the increase in hospital waiting lists. Most of the criticism has been______________ at the Minister.

Go back and underline the verb collocations.

2          Preposition + criticism

Use these expressions in the sentences:

barrage of criticism                                 open to criticism

note of criticism                                       in response to criticism

sensitive to criticism                            target for criticism

  1. If you stick to your extreme political views, don’t complain if you become a ______________ .
  2. The company has changed its working practices ______________ by government inspectors.
  1. Choose your words carefully. She is very ______________ .
  2. People in public life must be ______________ . If they’re not, they simply won’t survive.
  3. Do I detect a ______________ ? I would have thought you were the last person to dare to criticise me!
  4. After the singer’s appalling behaviour at the awards ceremony, she faced a ___________ in the national press.

3          Getting a lot of criticism

Underline the verbs and phrasal verbs in the sentences below:

  1. The French government has received strong criticism for continuing to test nuclear weapons in the Pacific.
  2. The police chief has come in for harsh criticism over his handling of the riots.
  3. The government’s economic policies have attracted a lot of criticism recently.
  4. The controversial film ‘Hooligans’ has run into severe criticism for its use of strong language.
  5. The new regulations on immigration have come under considerable criticism in the press.
  6. The government is currently facing fierce criticism over its failure to reduce taxes.

In the 6 sentences above, which five adjectives are used to mean ‘a lot of criticism’?

4          Common adjective collocations

Complete the sentences below with the following:

constructive                 growing

mild                                 unjustified

  1. I’m willing to accept your criticism of the way you were treated by Reception, but I think your criticism of ‘the whole staff of the hotel’ is wholly ______________ .
  2. My tutor didn’t offer any ______________ criticism of my poem. He just said he didn’t like it. I thought he would at least have given me some advice on how to improve it.
  3. The government is coming under ______________ criticism for its failure to send food to the starving people of West Africa. More and more people are demanding action.
  4. Make sure you only say positive things about her work. She can’t accept even ______________ criticism of her paintings. She thinks she’s the new Van Gogh!


1.         In 1-4 you can also use direct; in 2-6 a storm of criticism; in 4-3 increasing criticism is possible.

2.         Here are five main areas of adjectives:

strong: severe, harsh, heavy, bitter, fierce, serious growing: increasing, mounting

wide: widespread, general, fundamental, constant

positive: fair, constructive, legitimate, valid

negative: adverse, hostile, scathing, damaging

3.         Note the expression in 3-2 – come in for criticism. This means that someone is criticising you. It is a fairly formal usage:

Our policies have come in for a lot of criticism from the press recently.



Ex 1:

  1. resent            2. take          3. singled out for         4. aimed

Ex 2:

1 target for criticism                  2. in response to criticism

3 sensitive to criticism               4. open to criticism

5 note of criticism                       6. barrage of criticism

Ex 3:

1 received        2. come in for              3. attracted

4 run into         5. come under            6. facing

The five adjectives are: strong, harsh, severe, considerable, and fierce.

Ex 4:

  1. unjustified     2. constructive     3. growing   4. mild

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Written By

Misbah Kagad is a Content Marketing Specialist, currently working as IELTS Trainer at Experience Expert with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Skilled in Copywriting, Web Content writing, Management, IELTS and Research. Strong professional with a Diploma focused in Computer Science... Currently helping aspirants to crack IELTS, with tips and tricks to score a bandwidth of 8 and more. Handles the ideation and creation of compelling content including content for IELTS website, writing e-books and solving previous IELTS question papers…

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