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

 Key Word: problem

1          Verb + problem

Use the correct form of these verbs:

appreciate                   ignore              pose                 have

wrestle with                 tackle               solve                flee from

  1. We’ve been ___________ a few problems with our air conditioning recently.
  2. Asylum seekers may be ___________ problems at home, but they often meet very serious problems when they finally settle somewhere else.
  3. No one has ___________ the problem of what to do with radioactive waste.
  4. We simply can’t afford to avoid the problem of teenage pregnancy. I think that we need to ___________ it head on.
  5. I fully___________ your problem, but I’m afraid there is little I can do to help you.
  6. Are you seriously suggesting that we should just ___________  the problem? Just turn a blind eye to it?
  7. The professor___________ the problem for weeks, but he finally had to admit defeat.
  8. I’m glad Dave and Gill and the kids are coming to stay, but it___________ the problem of where they are all going to sleep!

2          Common adjective collocations

Choose the more natural collocations below:

  1. Smoking seems a___________ problem among teenage girls, in particular. Every year more and more are getting hooked. (growing / rising)
  2. I’m afraid this is a very___________ problem which requires prompt attention. (serious / large)
  3. There are a number of reasons why Geoff is not suitable for the job, but the ___________ problem is that he is famous for rubbing people up the wrong way! (simple / basic)
  4. One of the most___________ problems facing cities today is traffic congestion. (pressing / important)
  5. I believe that traffic congestion in large cities is an ___________ problem. I can see no way round it. And it’s only going to get worse and worse. (unsolvable / insurmountable)
  6. I wish there was a simple answer to this issue, but it’s a very___________ problem, and it will require a complex solution. (complicated / complete)

 3         Noun + preposition + problem

Use these nouns to complete the sentences:

extent              answer                                    root

nature             approach                              view

  1. We must get to the___________ of this problem. We need to discover the cause of it before too much damage is done.
  2. There isn’t a straight ___________ to the problem because it just isn’t that simple.
  3. We aren’t getting anywhere. I feel we need to take a fresh ___________ to the problem.
  4. The full ___________ of the problem became clear when the pilots realized that the plane was almost out of fuel.
  5. We need to take an overall___________ of the problem. We need to consider all parts of it.
  6. If you think that our profitability will improve simply by making staff cuts, then you misunderstand the___________ of the problem.



In 1-8‘create’is also possible.

In 3-1 ‘bottom’ is also possible.

2.         Note these expressions:

This problem won’t just disappear overnight

3.         If you think someone is going to disagree, you can ask:

Do you have a problem with this?

4.         Note the prepositions with ‘problem’:

The government is looking for new ways to deal with the problem of homelessness.

Unemployment is a serious problem for a lot of young people in this area.

5.         Note that we use the expression ‘No problem’ to mean something is OK:

Can you look after the shop for an hour or so? > No problem!

6.         A ‘thorny problem’ is a difficult problem to which there is no obvious and easy solution.

7.         Note these kinds of problems: personal problems / health problems / a drink problem / a weight problem / an attitude problem.

8.         A ‘problem child’ or family is one which causes problems for other people.

9.         Note the useful expression: ‘the only problem is’:

The only problem with this car is it’s incredibly expensive!



Ex 1:

1 having    2. fleeing from    3. solved      4. tackle

5 appreciate    6. ignore      7. wrestled with    8. poses

Ex 2:

1. growing    2. serious    3. basic    4. pressing    5.      insurmountable   6. complicated

Ex 3:

l. root    2. answer     3. approach     4. extent     5. view     6. nature / extent


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