A collocation is formed by combinations of two or more words that are used together in sentences. These two or more words together just sounds correct and form fixed relationships. However, we sometimes use collocation that is unnatural and does not fit together. There are different types of collocations in English. Few examples of collocations are

  • Fast train
  • Fast food
  • Quick meal
  • Make a coffee

Words with “make” and “do” often form good collocations. Common collocations:

  • She needs to make her bed every day. (Make the bed)
  • Harry regularly does his homework on time. (Do the homework)
  • An individual should take risks in life to reach their goal. (Take the risk)

There are also commonly used business collocations that are used in various business or formal situations.

  • She wants to open an account in the bank. (Open an account)
  • The team landed a deal worth $13 million. (Land a deal)
  • She received a discount while buying a home theatre system. (Receive a discount)

Common collocations

incorrect collocations

heavy rain

Fast rain

high temperature

tall temperature

scenic view

scenic picture

have an experience

do/make an experience

Collocations can be of different types. It is commonly divided into strong or weak.

Strong collocations are when particular words can collocate with very few words. These two words are usually fixed and restricted.

For example, the noun “wish” can collocate with very few words like the word “make.” Therefore, “wish” is a strong collocator.

Strong Collocation examples:

  • Curly hair
  • Winding road
  • Whisk an egg
  • Blissfully ignorant

Unfamiliar collocations

  • High earnings (big earnings is incorrect collocation)
  • Long-range planning (long-time planning is incorrect collocation)
  • Urban guerrilla (city guerrilla is incorrect collocation )

Weak collocations are where two or more words can collocate with many different words. For example, the word “big” can collocate with hundreds of words such as apartment, lamp, news, car, camera, umbrella, pain, pity, price, ocean, upset, window, chance, etc. Therefore, “big” is a weak collocator.

    • Enormous/large/ big/ + cup/house/lorry
    • Fast/expensive//shiny + motorbike/aeroplane/jet/car/
    • Really/extremely/very + interesting/hot/generous

It is very important to know about collocation to build a strong vocabulary

Becoming aware of collocations is a necessary part of vocabulary learning. Different languages have numerous collocating words. A good dictionary can help us to understand collocations. Dictionaries of collocations are also available.

Reason for Collocation of Words

There is no specific reason for collocation of words. It is just that certain words are used together in comparison to other words. Use of collocations has gradually become popular and is used in language teaching because of “corpus linguistics.” Corpus linguistics discusses huge volumes of spoken and written English words to calculate statistics of how people use words and combinations on a regular basis. With the help of this study strong and weak collocations have been identified.

Use of Collocations:

  • To build a strong vocabulary that will also be appreciated by native English speakers.
  • It provides an alternate method to express oneself in a better and richer way.
  • It is used in business and formal English.
  • Human brain easily remembers and uses language when it is referred to blocks, chunks, etc.

Learning Collocations

  • Reading is the key to remember and learn vocabulary and collocations.
  • One should learn collocations in groups. Collocations can also be learned by topics such as time, family, number, weather, etc. or it can be learned by taking specific words and learning all the collocations related to it.
  • One should always be aware of the collocation and try to recognize then whenever spotted while hearing or seeing.
  • Writing down new words and the words that collocate with it will also help to remember collocations.
  • Regular revising of the collocations learned can also help to remember collocations.
  • Taking the collocations present in chunks as individual or single blocks can also help to learn collocations easily.
  • Information about collocation can also be referred from a good dictionary. There are dictionaries present for just collocations. Such dictionaries can also be used to learn new collocations.

Types of Collocations

Verb, noun, adjectives are combined in different ways to form different types of collocations. Some of the common types of collocation combination are:

Adverb + adjective: 

  • Completely satisfied
  • Fully aware/completely aware
  • Utterly stupid
  • Richly decorated

Adjective + noun: 

  • Excruciating pain
  • Strong coffee
  • Heavy suitcase/load/book/bag
  • Rich smell/taste/color

Noun + noun: 

  • A surge of anger
  • Liquor license
  • Cross hair
  • Cane sugar
  • Work posture
  • Voting right

Noun + verb: 

  • Lions roar
  • Arguments raised
  • Treat this topic
  • Discuss arguments
  • Do the dishes
  • Make an effort

verb + noun: 

  • Commit murder
  • Commit suicide
  • Give a speech
  • Give a presentation
  • Make bed

Verb + expression with preposition: 

  • Burst into tears
  • Run out of
  • Drive anybody to
  • Abstain from
  • Apologize for

Verb + adverb: 

  • Wave frantically
  • Remember vaguely
  • Remember vividly
  • Whispered softly
  • Placed gently

Examples of different types of collocations:

Most common collocations of different types have been discussed above. Now we will discuss examples of these common collocation patterns.

Adverb + adjective

  • Running away from the accident spot was an utterly stupid thing to do.
  • The house was richly decorated on her birthday.
  • She was not fully aware of the repercussion of her action.

Adjective + noun

  • The physiotherapist prescribed regular exercise for her broken ankle.
  • Ana likes strong coffee.
  • He was helplessly crying on the ground due to excruciating pain.

Noun + noun

  • The actress received a round of applause after her performance.
  • Her irresponsible behavior brought a surge of anger into her parents.
  • The little girl bought two bars of soap.

Noun + verb

  • The arguments raised between the boss and the employee.
  • It was raining heavily when our plane took off.
  • The lion roared in the zoo when the children tried to go near the cage.
  • She was planning to do the dishes late at night.

Verb + noun

  • The prisoner was sentenced to death because he committed murder.
  • Ana try to do her homework in the evening, after making her bed.
  • She was highly appreciated after she gave the presentation.

Verb + expression with preposition

  • He was returning home because he ran out of money.
  • The bad behavior of the group of children can drive anybody to crime.
  • She was very emotional, and she burst into tears after watching the family drama.

Verb + adverb

  • She placed her hands gently on her daughter’s forehead.
  • The mother whispered softly sweet lullaby’s in the baby’s ear.
  • vaguely remember seeing that man in the store.

Common Collocations

Below is the list of common collocations to give a clear idea to the reader’s about collocation.

Verb collocations

have

Do

make

have a bath
have a drink
have a good time
have a haircut
have a holiday
have a problem
have a relationship
have a rest
have lunch
have sympathy

do business
do nothing
do someone a favour
do the cooking
do the housework
do the shopping
do the washing up
do your best
do your hair
do your homework

make a difference
make a mess
make a mistake
make a noise
make an effort
make furniture
make money
make progress
make room
make trouble

take

Break

catch

take a break
take a chance
take a look
take a rest
take a seat
take a taxi
take an exam
take notes
take someone’s place
take someone’s temperature

break a habit
break a leg
break a promise
break a record
break a window
break someone’s heart
break the ice
break the law
break the news to someone
break the rules

catch a ball
catch a bus
catch a chill
catch a cold
catch a thief
catch fire
catch sight of
catch someone’s attention
catch someone’s eye
catch the flu

pay

Save

keep

pay a fine
pay attention
pay by credit card
pay cash
pay interest
pay someone a compliment
pay someone a visit
pay the bill
pay the price
pay your respects

save electricity
save energy
save money
save one’s strength
save someone a seat
save someone’s life
save something to a disk
save space
save time
save yourself the trouble

keep a diary
keep a promise
keep a secret
keep an appointment
keep calm
keep control
keep in touch
keep quiet
keep someone’s place
keep the change

come

Go

get

come close
come complete with
come direct
come early
come first
come into view
come last
come late
come on time
come prepared
come right back
come second
come to a compromise
come to a decision
come to an agreement
come to an end
come to a standstill
come to terms with
come to a total of
come under attack

go abroad
go astray
go bad
go bald
go bankrupt
go blind
go crazy
go dark
go deaf
go fishing
go mad
go missing
go on foot
go online
go out of business
go overseas
go quiet
go sailing
go to war
go yellow

get a job
get a shock
get angry
get divorced
get drunk
get frightened
get home
get lost
get married
get nowhere
get permission
get pregnant
get ready
get started
get the impression
get the message
get the sack
get upset
get wet
get worried

Miscellaneous Collocations

Time

Business English

Classifiers

bang on time
dead on time
early 12th century
free time
from dawn till dusk
great deal of time
late 20th century
make time for
next few days
past few weeks
right on time
run out of time
save time
spare time
spend some time
take your time
tell someone the time
time goes by
time passes
waste time

annual turnover
bear in mind
break off negotiations
cease trading
chair a meeting
close a deal
close a meeting
come to the point
dismiss an offer
draw a conclusion
draw your attention to
launch a new product
lay off staff
go bankrupt
go into partnership
make a loss
make a profit
market forces
sales figures
take on staff

a ball of string

a bar of chocolate

a bottle of water

a bunch of carrots

a cube of sugar

a pack of cards

a pad of paper