Understanding Collocations: Types and Examples

Collocation refers to how words naturally go together or form fixed relationships.

Typical Collocations:

Correct: heavy rain

Incorrect: thick rain

Correct: high temperature

Incorrect: tall temperature

Correct: scenic view

Incorrect: scenic picture

Correct: have an experience

Incorrect: do/make an experience

Correct: She has blonde hair.

Incorrect: She has beige hair.

Correct: She was discharged from the hospital.

Incorrect: She was released from the hospital.

Strong Collocations:

Strong collocations are where the connection between the words is fixed and restricted.

Examples:

whisk an egg

curly hair

winding road

blissfully ignorant

Weak Collocations:

Weak collocations are where a word can collocate with many other words.

Examples:

big/enormous/large + house/lorry/cup

fast/shiny/expensive + car/motorbike/aeroplane

very/really/extremely + interesting/hot/generous

brown/straight/long + fence/hair/line

Becoming aware of collocations is an important part of vocabulary learning. In all languages, there are many words that naturally go together. A good dictionary can help you, and there are also dictionaries specifically focused on collocations.

Types of Collocation

Collocations are combinations of words that frequently go together. Here are some common types of collocation:

1. Adverb + Adjective

Examples:

Completely satisfied (NOT downright satisfied)

Utterly stupid (NOT downright stupid)

Deeply grateful (NOT downright grateful)

2. Adjective + Noun

Examples:

Regular exercise (NOT frequent exercise)

Maiden voyage (NOT initial voyage)

Excruciating pain (NOT excruciating joy)

3. Noun + Noun

Examples:

Round of applause (NOT round of laughter)

Ceasefire agreement (NOT peace agreement)

Bars of soap (NOT pieces of soap)

4. Noun + Verb

Examples:

Lions roar (NOT lions shout)

Snow falls (NOT snow rises)

Bomb explodes (NOT bomb activates)

5. Verb + Noun

Examples:

Commit suicide (NOT undertake suicide)

Do homework (NOT perform homework)

Give a presentation (NOT provide a presentation)

6. Verb + Expression with Preposition

Examples:

Burst into tears (NOT blow up in tears)

Run out of money (NOT exhaust money)

Drive to crime (NOT steer to crime)

7. Verb + Adverb

Examples:

Place keys gently (NOT place keys violently)

Whisper softly (NOT whisper loudly)

Remember vaguely (NOT remember clearly)

Grammar Lab

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