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

Key word: disaster

1          Verb + disaster

Use the correct form of these verbs:

avert                court                head for

spell                 end in              strike

  1. Disaster__________ when the plane’s engine failed shortly after take-off.
  2. An airliner came close to disaster while approaching Kennedy Airport yesterday. Fortunately, the disaster was narrowly __________ by the quick reactions of the pilot.
  3. The business was__________ financial disaster until a new manager arrived to save the situation.
  4. The discovery of foot and mouth disease in British cattle __________ disaster for many British farmers. Many went out of business as a result.
  5. Drinking and driving is stupid and irresponsible. If you do it, you are simply __________ disaster.
  6. The trip to the island _________ disaster when the small boat we were in hit a rock and sank in a matter of minutes.

Go back and underline the verb collocations.

2          Common adjective collocations

Complete the sentences with these adjectives:

ecological                    impending                   major

nuclear                        natural                        utter

  1. There’s not much you can do about _________ disasters like floods and earthquakes.
  2. I’m not going to bore you with all the details. It’s enough to say that the whole event was a total and_________ disaster.
  3. Many scientists believe that the destruction of the rain forests is an _________disaster that threatens the future of life on Earth.
  4. When the emergency services arrived at the scene of the accident, they soon realised that they had a_________ disaster on their hands.
  5. On the morning of the final climb to the summit of Mt Everest, I woke with an overwhelming feeling of _________ disaster. I was right. Two of our party of seven died that day.
  6. Everyone knew before it happened that Chernobyl was a_________ disaster waiting to happen.

 3         Noun + preposition + disaster

Complete the sentences below with a suitable preposition:

  1. It was impossible to comprehend the full scale _________ the disaster.
  2. Following the rail crash, the government has promised a full investigation_________ the disaster.
  3. The reason _________ the disaster was engine failure, not human error.
  4. Hospitals up to fifty miles from the site _________ the disaster were inundated with casualties.
  5. The recent wave of strikes has brought the country to the brink_________ economic disaster.
  6. Letting Fernando organise the trip is a recipe _________ disaster. Everything is likely to go wrong.
  7. The earthquake is just the latest in a long line _________ disasters that have hit the country recently.
  8. The director accepted full responsibility_________ the disaster and resigned on the spot.

Now go back and underline the complete expressions. The first is done for you.



1.         In 2-4 you could also say a ‘full-scale disaster’.

2.         Note the following ways of saying something is a complete disaster:

The trip was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.

The whole project was an out-and-out disaster.

3.         If you say somebody is ‘a walking disaster’, you mean they are always having accidents:

He’s broken his leg again! That boy is a walking disaster!

Everything happens to him.

4.         Note the expression in 2-6 – a disaster waiting to happen. It is similar in meaning to the expression in 3-6 – a recipe for disaster:

This plan to open offices in every major European city is a recipe for financial disaster.

5.         ‘A disaster area’ or ‘disaster zone’ is one where something awful has happened:

The government officially declared the town a disaster area after the typhoon destroyed most of the buildings.




Ex 1:

  1. struck 2. averted 3. heading for 4. spelt 5. courting 6. ended in

Ex 2:

  1. natural 2. utter 3. ecological 4. major 5. impending 6. nuclear

Ex 3:

  1. of 2. into 3. for   4. of     5. of     6. for   7. of     8. for

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