Fun with Words: Collocations

Fun with Words: Collocations

Vocabulary is an important part of any language. Therefore, higher importance is given to understanding and learning of the vocabulary while learning any language.

However strenuous it may sound, as an online English speaking course in India we are of the opinion that once we follow an easy pattern of working with words, it’s a walk in the park to memorize and use them. It’s wonderful how words can change the way a sentence sound. It makes a huge impact on your English speaking and writing skills.

We at Speechify, have been trying to improve vocabulary and speaking skills of our students in our online spoken English classes for last five years. Our online English tutors in India have largely figured out what works and what does not.

And that brings us to the topic on collocations. You might have heard or read hundreds of collocations. Yes, a collocation is two or more words that often go together. Not only will your language be more easily understood but also you will have better ways of expressing yourself. Collocations replace the overused words such as “very”, “nice”, or “beautiful”, by using a pair of words that fits the context better with a more precise meaning. Using collocations will enhance your language and make it more interesting.

For example, the term “fast food” is an accepted collocation. “Quick” and “fast” mean the same thing, but if you swapped the word “fast” for “quick” and instead said “quick food” instead of “fast food”, people would get confused and not understand what you said. Therefore, word pairings are very important in English.

Collocations in the English language:

There are numerous collocations in the English language. Here are some different types of collocations that our online English teachers have enlisted for you:

  • Adjective and Noun

Adjectives with nouns can be added to form collocations. To describe (adjective) something (noun) using collocations is to describe it in a way that is generally seen in English.

Collocation examples of adjectives with nouns: internal injury, warm clothes, internal organ, strong coffee, irreparable damage, strong coffee, joint account, good friends, key issue, key role, warm clothes.

  • Adverbs and Adjectives

Adverbs with adjectives can be added to form collocations. These relate to how you describe something in particular.

Collocation examples of adverbs with adjectives: highly probable, highly profitable, partly cloudy, highly generous, fully aware, happily married, highly controversial, highly effective.

  • Noun and Noun

Two nouns are placed together most often to form a collocation.

Collocation examples with two nouns: core values, round of applause, corporate finance, cottage industry, creation science, a swarm of insects, credit bureau, cup of tea, credit union.

Verbs and Expressions with Prepositions

Verbs with prepositions can be added to form a collocation. It’s just a way of expressing how something was done. It gives more information than simply saying someone was ‘scared’ etc. Here’s an example of a collocation using this combination of words:

Examples of collocations with verbs and prepositions: allow for, apologize for, ask for, object to, pray to, prefer to.

  • Verb and Adverb

Verbs with adverbs can be added to form a collocation. This is a collocation that describes how something was done again, but without the use of prepositions.

Collocation examples of verb with adverb: go far, go first, go upstairs, guess correctly, drive safely, hit hard, choose wisely, judge harshly, leave quietly, know well, responded quickly.

  • Verb and Noun

Verbs with nouns can be added to form a collocation. There are phrases here that make more sense when combined together.

Examples of collocations of verb with noun: go on a date, committing murder, go on a picnic, go on foot, do my homework, have a fight, have a fit, have a game, do the shopping, keep quiet, give a presentation, keep records, put on clothes.

  • Noun and Verb

Noun can also be joined with verbs to form a collocation. This is just the combination above but with the noun first and the verb second.

Examples of collocations of noun with verb: dog barking, plane took off, lions roar, prices fall, wind howls.

How do you learn collocations in your speaking vocabulary?

Now the question is how you can improve your vocabulary using Collocations. One way is through online English speaking classes!

To learn English online is an excellent method for both students and teachers. Online English classes facilitate all the things you love about being a teacher right to your home.

Well, one of the best ways to learn collocations is to read and listen to various things in English. This will help you to recognize them when you see and hear the pair of words. When you read something, you will find out that it starts with common verbs such as have, get, make and take. But as we have learnt above, collocations can be made of any part of speech, with nouns, adverbs and adjectives and not just verbs.

Next, you can look up collocations in the dictionary. Sometimes the information is highlighted in some special way in a dictionary. In other cases, the examples used in the dictionary include many common collocations. A good dictionary will also tell you if a collocation is formal or informal. For example, the dictionary will give a difference between the phrase, “take up an offer” which is an informal collocation and “accept an offer” which is a formal alternative. Using a collocation dictionary can be helpful, but do not attempt to try to memorize them at one go. Instead, keep jotting down a few collocations every time and try writing a sentence that you might use in real life. For example, for “make an effort,” you might write “I must make an effort to score 90% in exams this time” or “I should make an effort to talk about other things”

You can always watch television or Netflix programs which can teach you a lot about collocations. Observe the collocations used by the people and note them down when you find them in some dialogues on a TV show or movie. Again, try writing a sentence for each or using them in your conversation.

Thus, knowing about collocations can improve your English skills as they make you sound more native. Using them improves your English proficiency. I personally feel English language learners need to devote more time to studying collocations and creating lots of personalized sentences with them. Knowingly or unknowingly, we might have used collocations in spoken or written English. We should try to make them part of our active vocabulary.

Collocations are abstract, they normally have no explanation, and the list is endless. Therefore, when you learn new expressions, it is vital to write them down as part of a sentence where it makes sense. Try and focus on language as a sum of set phrases, rather than a sum of single words. This will inevitably help you use different collocations in your real-life conversations. By studying English collocations, you will be able to learn the word properly and understand how to use it in a sentence correctly.

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