A collocation is a pair of group of words that are often used together. These combinations sound natural to native speakers, but students of English have to make a special effort to learn them because they are often difficult to guess. Some combinations just sound ‘wrong’ to native speakers of English. For example, the adjective handsome collocates with men, but not with trees. Some collocations are fixed, or very strong, for example take a photo, where no word other than take collocates with photo or give the same meaning. Sometimes, a pair of words may not be absolutely wrong, and people will understand what is meant, but it may not be the natural, normal collocation. If someone says I did a few mistakes they will be understood, but a fluent speaker of English would probably say I made a few mistakes.
You need to learn collocations because they will help you to speak and write English in a more natural and accurate way. People will probably understand what you mean if you talk about ‘making your homework’or say ‘My dad is a very high man’but your language will sound unnatural and might perhaps confuse. Also, learning collocations will help you to increase your range of your vocabulary. For example, you’ll find it easier to avoid words like very or nice or beautiful or get by choosing a word that fits the context better and has a more precise meaning. This is particularly useful if you are taking a written exam in English and want to make a good impression on the examiners.
enhance or improve your appearance
have or get a taboo done
have or get a piercing, nose pierced
use/wear/apply/put on make up, cosmetics
sashay/ strut down the catwalk
pull on/off coat, socks, gloves
wear perfume, accessories
freeze/open a bank account
live on pension, a low wage, salary
inherit/amass wealth, a fortune
earn a keep
extend/renew/terminate the lease/tenancy/contract
put your home/property on the market (sell)
survive/weather/experience/suffer a recession/downtown
accumulate/incur/run up debts
face/be plunged into an economic crisis
exercise/defend national sovereignty
bring down/overthrow/topple the government
abolish/restore/topple the monarchy
lead/spearhead a campaign/movement
have seats in parliament
introduce/draw up/pass/adopt/draft a bill/law legislation
veto/oppose/vote against a bill/proposal
perpetuate/conform to/fit/defy a common/negative stereotype
entrench/perpetuate racist attitude
deport/repatriate illegal immigrants
practice racial/religious tolerance/segregation
fear/escape from/flee racial/political/religious persecution
be infected with a virus/HIV
put on/rub on/apply cream/lotion/ointment
dress/bandage/clean a bullet wound
suffer/sustain an injury, a hairline fracture
have a fall/an injury
exercise/defend national sovereignty
take on/do freelance work
raise/withdraw/overrule an objection
lodge/file an appeal
carry/face/serve a seven year life sentence
impose/enforce/lift a curfew
reject/accept/violet a peace treaty
cut short a trip/holiday/vacation
deploy/send/station/pull back troops
carve a figure/image/sculptor/relief
sculpt a status/an abstract figure
etch a line/pattern/design/name into the glass
install/place a sculptor on something
showcase/feature/promote a conceptual artist
The weather brightens/improves/worsens/breaks. (changes suddenly)
A storm breaks/passes/brews/abates (grow less strong)
The sun breaks through the clouds.
The sky clears/brightens up.
The clouds part/clear.
The rain holds off.
The wind dies down.
The mist/fog lifts or clears.
The sun warms/beats down on something.
The sunshine breaks/streams through something.
A fine mist hangs in the air.
Thunder rolls, rumbles, sounds, etc.
We forecast/expect/predict—– rain/snow.
A phobia is an extreme or unnatural fear of something.
Aichmophobia fear of sharp or pointed object
Ailurophobia fear of cats
Brontophobia fear of thunder
Crystallophobia fear of glass
Kathisophobia fear of sitting down
Kinosophobia fear of motion
Triskaidekaphobia fear of the number
Take notice of the following words that go together with the highlighted words.
We’re so glad we decided to take a holiday here. Yesterday we took a trip to the mountains. First we took a bus to a little village and got off when we saw one that we took a liking to. Of course, we were taking a risk as we didn’t know exactly we’d find there. But we were lucky. Some kids took an interest in us and showed us some great places. We took a lot of photos.
Have you done anything yet about your job? I’d take a chance and leave if I were you. No point in staying somewhere where the boss has taken a dislike to you! Take advantage of being in Kathmandu—there are always plenty of jobs there. You’ll soon find something else, so take action, that’s my advice! Good luck!
The words that are likely to obstruct your understanding have been glossed below.
My father has a round face, with chubby cheeks and a droopy moustache. My mother has a more pointed face and a straight nose. My younger sister is more like my father. She has an oval face and an upturned nose. My older sister is like a model. She has a slim figure and a slender waist. She has a lovely complexion and beautiful sleek, waist-length hair, and she’s always immaculately groomed. If eel so ordinary next to her—I’ve got coarse hair and rather broad hips, but she always says I look nice.
a) chubby fat in a pleasant and attractive way
b) droopy long and hanging down heavily
c) sleek smooth and shiny
My father and my two older brothers are all well-built with broad shoulders. My father is going bald but he still has a very youthful appearance for someone who is over forty. My brothers both have thick hair and bushy eyebrows. My younger brother is only two—he’s just a tiny tot, but he’s very cute. My mother’s sides of the family mostly have dark hair—in fact my mother had jet-black hair when she was younger, before she went white—but on my father’s side some have fair hair and some have ginger hair.
a. well-built = have strong, attractive bodies
b. bushy = very thick
c. tot = a small child
d. jet-black hair = completely black
e. ginger = a red or orange-brown colour; used of people’s hair
THE MOST FREQUENTLY MISPRONOUNCED WORDS
The following words are usually mispronounced by non-native speakers of English. The readers need to consult an up-to-date English dictionary.
aesthetic apple April Asian autopsy aisle bathe
balloon behind bouquet cauliflower council cuisine dais
deity delicious depot devil elephant exhibition familiar
felicitate gauge geography ghee guardian hammer healthy
hurricane increase January jeans jersey leopard liaison
luxurious majority maternal mature militia newspaper oblige
obtain of oil orchard pamphlet paralysis parent
penchant pencil phenomenon phoenix precious photography quiet
question recitation regime release renaissance registration resort
résumé risen roster salad salon salt science
shaman specific specimen suggestion suicide Switzerland thesis
threw tomb tortoise used to vacancy vacation vase
vehicle visa women