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What is Collocation?
What is Collocation?

What is Collocation?

As the word suggests, Co means together and location means place. It refers to a group of words that usually go together. In other words, these are words that like to hangout together.

Even though there are many other possible word combinations, understanding collocations help English learners improve their fluency because they are words that usually go together.

Eg:

Make the bed: Tina asked her kids to make the bed.

Make noise: The students make noise when the teacher is not around.

Here use of make does not mean you have to construct a bed or prepare noise.Lets looks at the difference through the table given below:

Natural English Unnatural English
Make bed Construct bed
Fast food Quick food
Make room Build room
Take rest Buy rest

Why Do Words Collocate?

There is often no specific reason for a collocation. People just put certain words together more often than they put other words together. Collocations are used often in business English and there are dictionaries such as the Oxford Dictionary of Collocations that can help you learn these common collocations.This puts forth your level of the language usage.

Why learn collocations:

  • Your language will be more natural
  • Collocations often makes learning English easier and certain ideas can be put forth by combining two words that go well together.
  •  It is easier for our brains to remember and use language in chunks or blocks rather than as single words.Putting together these chunks of language leads to more fluent English.

Strong Collocations

Strong collocations are words that almost always go together. There are possibilities that people might understand you if you don’t use a strong collocation. However, you might sound funny, if you do not use strong collocations. For example:

I did my bed.

I made my bed.

Both mean the same thing.Such usage of strong collocation shows your excellent command of the English language, and can certainly help impress native speakers’ of your ability to speak English well. Of course, if you are speaking to other non-native speakers the ability to use collocations correctly all the time becomes less important. And it does not reduce the importance of using collocation in your conversations with non native speakers.Using correct collocation is as important as using a correct sense.

Our meeting was on Tuesday at five thirty o’clock in Lucknow.

I’ve done an appointment at five thirty in Lucknow.

In both of these sentences, there are mistakes. However, in the first sentence instead of using a future tense, the past tense is used. If you want your colleagues to come to the meeting, this mistake is very serious and will lead to no one coming to the meeting, as everyone would assume that the meeting is already over.

In the second sentence ‘do an appointment’ is a misuse of a strong collocation. However, the meaning is clear: You have scheduled a meeting at five thirty. In this case, a mistake in collocations is not nearly as important as a mistake in tense usage.

Sample Collocations

Types Of Collocations
Adverb + adjective
Adjective + noun
Noun + noun
Noun + verb
Verb +noun
Verb + expression with preposition
Verb + adverb

1.adverb + adjective

  • Meeting her at the cafe was an utterly stupid thing to do.
  • We were welcomed to a richly decorated room.
  • Are you fully aware of the consequences of your action?

2.adjective + noun

  • The doctor advised him to have regular check ups.
  • The girl wore an amazing dress.
  • The doctors gave up on David who was in excruciating pain.

3.noun + noun

  • Let’s give the team a round of applause.
  • I’d like to buy two bars of chocolate please.

4.noun + verb

  • The dog started to bark when it heard the bird chirping.
  • Snow was falling as our plane took off.

5.verb + noun

  • The culprit was caught for committing murder.
  • I always try to do my work in the evenings, after putting my kids to sleep.

I have been asked to give a presentation about my study trip to Beijing.

6.verb + expression with preposition

  • We had to cancel our trip midway because we had run out of money.
  • Her eyes were filled with horror, when she saw someone sneaking in through the window.
  • John’s behaviour was enough to drive anybody to crime.

7.verb + adverb

  • She placed her bag gently on the shelf and sat down.
  • Mary whispered softly in her baby’s ear.
  • I vaguely remember that it was raining when we left for the ball.

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Written By

Houston has been in the field of IELTS for about eight years and has been associated with IELTSMaterial for the last two years. As an IELTS Expert, her contributions to the articles have been informative and original. Whitney has written about 200 informative articles for IELTSMaterial.com, which enables students to learn from her expertise. Whitney is also a good researcher, and thus any new information about the IELTS test can be found on our website, thanks to her. Whitney completed her graduation in Creative Writing at Glasgow University, Belfast. Having seen her foreign peers struggling to prepare for IELTS to find jobs abroad kindled her, and she began learning the techniques and strategies to crack the IELTS test to help her peers.

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