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What Are Collocations?

In any language, the value of vocabulary cannot be emphasized. As a result, a greater emphasis is placed on vocabulary comprehension and learning when learning a language. 

Collocations, being a significant part of the English vocabulary, is one aspect that you should give importance to.

If you want to know more about the fundamentals of collocations, why we need them, and the different sorts of collocations, please keep reading.

What are Collocations?

Collocation is a term that refers to a grouping of words that appear together because of their frequent use and hence, have the same meaning.

It is possible that when we use ‘heavy rain’ instead of big or strong rain, we are implying that it is raining heavily.

Although in the example above, the terms ‘strong rain’ and ‘big rain’ have the same meaning. Both of them are, in fact, grammatically valid. 

However, using the terms ‘big rain’ or ‘strong rain’ will sound weird. As a result, we employ ‘heavy rain’ to sound more natural and to improve our English.

Similarly, there are other instances where we employ a specific set of words in order to sound organically proper.

Collocations are a term that refers to a group of words that are expected to be used together. To ‘do homework’, ‘make the bed’, ‘take a chance’, and so on are some additional examples of collocations.

There are seven types of collocations in the English language. They are: 

  • Adverb + Adjective
  • Adjective + Noun
  • Noun + Noun
  • Noun + Verb
  • Verb + Noun
  • Verb + Preposition
  • Verb + Adverb 

What are the Different Types of Collocations?

There are various types of collocations with regard to how they are structured. To avoid confusion, it is a must that you familiarize yourself with each kind. 

Here are the different types of collocations with examples. 

Adverb + Adjective 

CollocationsExample Sentences
conveniently located“The shop was conveniently located across a university.” 
deeply offended“He looks deeply offended by her remarks.”
desperately eager“The police were desperately eager to solve the case.”
eternally grateful“She is eternally grateful to her neighbors for helping her put off the fire.”
fully aware“She was fully aware that she was speeding.” 
highly unusual“It was highly unusual for him to be late for work.” 
perfectly normal“The fact that she got high marks in the exam is perfectly normal.” 
richly decorated “The lawn is richly decorated for tonight’s party.”
totally unbelievable“I find her story totally unbelievable.” 
utterly stupid“That is such an utterly stupid thing to do!”

Adjective + Noun

CollocationsExample Sentences
big disappointment“The son thought he was a big disappointment to his parents after failing the exam.” 
deep sleep“He went into a deep sleep after the nurse injected him with tranquilizers.” 
heavy traffic“I will be late for the meeting because of the heavy traffic.” 
irresistible food“The new restaurant offers irresistible food.” 
joint account“The couple decided to sign up for a joint account.” 
loud music“He was not able to focus on his studies because of the loud music from the adjacent room.”  
maiden voyage“The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage.”  
rich history“China is a country known for its rich history.” 
strong accent“I can’t barely understand what she was saying because of her strong accent.”
stunning view“The tourists were amazed by the stunning view.” 

Noun + Noun

CollocationsExample Sentences
account executive“He works as an account executive at the city’s largest shopping center.” 
action movie“My dad is fond of watching action movies.” 
beauty parlor“I need to go to the beauty parlor for a manicure.”
cable car“He has never been in a cable car so he was excited.” 
debit card“I had to use my debit card because I ran out of cash.” 
election fraud“The senator was being accused of election fraud.” 
group dynamics“The group dynamics of the team is admirable.” 
jury system“We trust that the jury system will give the right verdict.” 
panic attack“She was experiencing panic attacks the night she was brought to the hospital.”
search warrant“The police were not able to get into the property because they do not have a search warrant.” 

Noun + Verb

CollocationsExample Sentences
accident takes place“An accident took place on the highway last night.”
battery drains“My phone’s battery drains easily; I need a new one.” 
bee stings“The bee stung my hand and now it’s swollen.” 
bomb explodes“The bomb exploded and left at least four people injured.” 
car crashes“We saw a car crashing into a lamppost last night.” 
crisis developsCrisis develops every now and then, but the company has always been prepared.” 
dog barks“I was not able to sleep well last night because of the dog’s barking.”
plane takes off“He closed his eyes and hoped to fall asleep as the plane took off.” 
time runs out“She answered the exam as best as she could as the time ran out.” 
water drips“The sound of the water dripping annoys her.” 

Verb + Noun

CollocationsExample Sentences
break the law“You will be sentenced to jail if you break the law.” 
catch a cold“My mom told me not to play in the rain because I might catch a cold.” 
come to a decision“We need to come to a decision by tomorrow.”
do your bestDo your best on your exams.”
get a job“She needs to get a job to support her studies.”
have a drink“Would you like to have a drink?”
make money“He makes money by selling properties.” 
pay attention“You need to pay attention to what the teacher is explaining.” 
save energy“He needed to save his energy for the match later that night.”
take notes“He took notes as he listened to the professor.” 

Verb + Preposition

CollocationsExample Sentences
agree with“I totally agree with you; that is such an excellent idea.”
believe in“You need to believe in yourself.” 
concentrate on“She needs to concentrate on improving her grades.” 
confess to“The man confessed to robbing the bank and was sentenced to five years in prison.”
get rid of“You need to declutter to get rid of things you do not need anymore.” 
give up“She gave up on waiting for the rain to stop.” 
hear from“I haven’t heard from him in a long time.”
recover from“The team captain is still recovering from a knee injury.” 
stare at“She stared at the old lady across her figuring where she knew her from.” 
wait for“I need to wait for my parents before I can leave.” 

Adverb + Verb (Verb + Adverb)

CollocationsExample Sentences
badly need“She badly needed the money so she asked for help from her friends.” 
distinctly remember“I think I met her at a convention last year; I distinctly remember.” 
firmly believe“The witness firmly believes that the accident was the white car’s fault.”
fully understand “The employee fully understood the contract so she signed it.”
greatly admire“I greatly admire my parents for raising me and my siblings.” 
hotly deny“The officers hotly denied the request of the civilians.”
seriously doubt“I seriously doubt he bought the car himself.” 
sincerely hope“She sincerely hoped that her friend would get better.” 
strongly criticize “The citizens strongly criticized the president for implementing such law.” 
totally agree“The employees totally agree with the manager’s decision.”
Note: Both structures are acceptable. 

Collocations vs. Phrasal Verbs: What’s the Difference?

Phrasal verbs are collocations by definition; however, not all collocations are phrasal verbs. 

A collocation is a term that refers to words that are frequently or always used together. 

In a sentence, a collocation can act as different parts of speech. ‘Bunch of flowers’ (noun) or ‘commit a crime’ (verb) are two examples.

On the other hand, a phrasal verb is frequently made up of a verb and a preposition that has a different meaning from the original verb. 

For instance, ‘put + up with’ means to tolerate something, ‘put + up’ means to return something to its original/proper position (particularly when cleaning), and ‘put + off’ indicates to delay something until a later schedule.

Because the preposition element of a phrasal verb alters the entire meaning, it is better to memorize phrasal verbs in chunks of verb + prep rather than studying the verb definition and then the preposition separately.


Adverb + Adjective“They may be identical twins but they are completely different.”  (adjective) 
Adjective + Noun“The strong wind destroyed their treehouse.” (noun)  
Noun + Noun“The head teacher is talking to the students.” (noun) 
Noun + Verb“The wind howled from all directions as thick clouds covered the sky.” (verb)
Verb + Noun“The staff pay their respects to the founder of the company as he was laid to rest.” (verb)
Adverb + Verb“He vehemently denied all the accusations and pleaded not guilty.” (verb)

Phrasal Verbs

“I opt to drop out of college and look for a job instead.” 
“You need to take off your shoes before entering the temple.” 
“Do not throw away your old clothes; donate them.” 
“The son took over as the company’s CEO after his father got sick.” 
”It was almost 4 o’clock when we finally checked in at the hotel.” 
Phrasal verbs are collocations that follow the ‘Verb + Prepositional Phrase’ structure and function as a verb, most of the time.

How to Learn Collocations?

Collocations will help you sound more natural in English. 

However, some words in English go together, and others do not, and there is no grammatical explanation for it. 

Collocations might be problematic for English learners as a result of this.

Thus, here are some tips and techniques you can apply as you study and learn about collocations. 

  • Recognize and learn.

Reading and listening to various things in English is one of the finest ways to hunt for collocations.

This will simplify you to identify them when you see or hear them.

  • Use a collocation dictionary. 

Using a collocation dictionary can be beneficial, but do not strive to memorize huge lists.

Instead, take note of a few collocations each time you hear one and write a phrase or two about how they apply to your own life.

For example, you could write “I wish I had more free time throughout the week” or “When I visit my family for the holidays, I will finally have free time.”

  • Observe and learn. 

Observing and noting the collocations found in a few minutes of dialogue on a TV show or movie is one approach to using them. Then, compose a sentence for each that you might use in real life and practice saying it aloud.

  • Read. 

As much as possible, read. Reading is a fantastic approach to learning vocabulary and collocations spontaneously and in context. Read and study them in groups that are convenient for you. You can study them by theme (time, number, weather, money, and family) or by a specific word (‘take an exam’, ‘take action’, ‘take a chance’).

  • Revise. 

Regularly review what you have learned. After learning new collocations, practice utilizing them in context as soon as feasible.

This way, you will slowly integrate the collocations into your daily activities, and using them will be natural for you. 

What are in the Academic Collocations List?

The Academic Collocation List (ACL) is a collection of 2,469 of the most common and helpful collocations found in academic writing.

It might be thought of as a collocational companion to the Academic Word List (AWL), using collocations (or word combinations) instead of single words.

The ACL was created by Kirsten Ackermann and Yu-Hua Chen with the help of English teaching specialists and the Pearson International Corpus of Academic English (PICAE) to ensure that the collocations chosen would be valuable to English students. 

What Are in the Business Collocations List?

When discussing business in English, collocations are commonly used word combinations. 

For example, in English, we do business rather than make it. If you are attempting to do business all around the world, that business English collocation can make all the difference.

It is crucial to get the phrase right while making judgments involving large sums of money.

For a list of the different collocations in academics and in business, please click the links below:

Why Do Collocations Matter?

Collocations are the building blocks of a ‘natural language’ and without them, you might still be understood by others, but your words will sound off and weird.

Understanding collocations will help you gain confidence in your abilities in writing and speaking.

As an English learner, your goals are undoubted to improve fluency and sound more natural in spoken and written English.

Your knowledge in collocations can also be quite beneficial to be able to foresee what someone is going to say in the receptive skills (reading and hearing), either to mentally prepare yourself or in case the rest of the sentence or expression is unheard or unclear. 

Needless to say that when it comes to acquiring fluency in English, learning collocations is unquestionably an important component of the puzzle.

Additional FAQs – Collocations

What are Collocations in Grammar?

Collocation is referred to as the natural combination of words that are closely related.

By choosing a pair of words that match the situation better and have a clearer meaning, collocations make it easy to avoid adjectives that are overused like ‘very’, ‘nice’, or ‘beautiful’.

What are the 7 Types of Collocation?

The seven types and structures of collocations are :

— adverb + adjective,
— adjective + noun,
— noun + noun,
— noun + verb,
— verb + noun,
— verb + prepositional phrase and
— adverb + verb.

Phrasal verbs are also considered collocations and follow the structure ‘verb + preposition’. 

Are Idioms Collocations? 

No, idioms are not considered collocations.

Collocations are a group of words that frequently appear in the same context.

Idioms, on the other hand, simply refer to an expression that acts as a single unit and whose meaning cannot be deduced from its individual components.


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