Collocations

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What is a collocation? With so many words for so many different things in the English language, it can feel a little bit like you’re not going anywhere fast as you try to understand it all. But don’t worry, collocations are simple enough things to understand, and they’ll actually benefit you a great deal when you start to use them yourself. This is because collocation is so often used in English speech and writing, so mastering the use of them is essential for you to be able to speak and write in a way that is both commonly understood, and grammatically correct.

What Is A Collocation?

Collocations are words that are frequently placed together. So, a collocation in English is a group of two or more words that are often found together either in English speech or English writing.

This is important, because whilst there are other words available that certainly make sense, collocations are the words that are most often used together. To understand which words go together most often in English is to really show your mastery of the language by highlighting how you are aware of the words that fit best together, because it is used in that way more often than not. There are different types of collocations though, so we’ll take a look at some examples of these to better understand what a collocation really is.

Some typical collocation examples are “pay attention”, “fast food”, “make an effort”, and “powerful engine”.

Collocations make it easier to avoid overused or ambiguous words like “very”, “nice”, or “beautiful”, by using a pair of words that fits the context better and has a more precise meaning. Using collocations will help your English sound naturally like a native speaker.

Collocation Examples

Examples of collocations with take, get, do, make, go…

  • He had intended to take a holiday in New York.
  • He wanted to see if he could get a job with us.
  • I might take a lesson from you.
  • My goals were to go back to school and get a degree.
  • I’ll take a look at the website and let you know what I think. 
  • He was beginning to get angry.
  • Couldn’t you do a favour and leave me alone?
  • She should make a right choice.
  • Could you do a report for me?
  • We are to make a contract for a supply of raw silk with the company.
  • I like to do homework.
  • We need to make a deal for this project.
  • The company is about to go bankrupt.

Collocations

Types of Collocations

It’s important to understand that the English language has a large number of collocations, but they all fall into the following categories. Of course, there isn’t enough room in this guide to list all possible collocations, but later on, we will discuss how you can learn more for yourself. For now, here are the different types of collocations for you to consider.

Adverbs and Adjectives

These collocations relate to how you describe something in particular. There are words that could be used instead, but in English, we almost always see them like this:

Happily married – if we are describing a joyful marriage, we always say happily married. You wouldn’t expect to see anybody saying something like “They were joyfully married”. Whilst yes, it makes sense and everybody would understand what you meant, it falls slightly odd on English speakers ears because they are just so used to the adverb and adjective collocation of ‘happily married’.

Other examples of collocations with adverb and adjective: fully aware, happily married, highly controversial, highly effective, highly probable, highly profitable…

Adjective and Noun

To describe (adjective) something (noun) using collocations is to describe it in a way that is most often seen in English. Below is a common example:

Major problem – if you are trying to say that something has gone wrong, then telling somebody that you are facing a ‘major problem’ is the correct collocation. If we changed the noun instead of the adjective, you can see that describing other things as major just sounds a little odd. Saying you had a ‘major solution’ to that problem wouldn’t sound right. So you can see how some words just fit together better because they are most commonly put together, allowing us to grow used to hearing or seeing them in that way.

Collocation examples with adjectives and nouns: internal injury, internal organ, irreparable damage, joint account, just cause, key issue, key role…

Noun and Verb

When attributing a verb to a noun, some phrases are just more often combined than others, so this forms a collocation because we become used to seeing the words combined:

Lions roar – when describing what a lion does in an aggressive fight for example, you would expect to see it being described as a ‘lions roar’. Whilst you could say ‘lions shout’ or even ‘bears roar’, it’s less common because they just aren’t put together and it will sound a little odd.

Verb and Noun

This is just the combination above but with the verb first and the noun second. There are phrases here that make more sense when combined together than others:

Booming economy – if you are trying to express how a country’s economy is doing really well at the moment, then you can say that the country has a ‘booming economy’. To say it had a ‘flourishing economy’ would make sense, but it just isn’t seen often enough for people to know instantly what you were talking about. After a little thought on the reader or listener’s side, they would understand the meaning, but when talking or writing our key objective should be to get our point across clearly.

Other examples of collocations with verb and noun: go on a date, go on a picnic, go on foot, have a fight, have a fit, have a game, keep quiet, keep records…

Verbs and Expressions with Prepositions

This is slightly more complicated, but it’s just a way of expressing how something was done. It gives slightly more information than simply saying someone was ‘scared’ etc. Here’s an example of a collocation using this combination of words:

Filled with horror – this tells you that somebody was scared, but by using the verb ‘filled’ and the preposition ‘with’ to express their ‘horror’ or ‘fear’. If you wanted to describe how somebody was feeling worried, you wouldn’t expect to see somebody saying they were ‘filled with nervousness’.

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

Verb and Adverb

A collocation made up of a verb and adverb is a collocation that describes how something was done again, but without the use of prepositions:

Cry hysterically – if somebody is really upset they could be said to ‘cry hysterically’, but you wouldn’t expect to see somebody said to ‘cry frantically’ or hear of somebody who was said to ‘smile hysterically’ because it just isn’t common.

More collocation examples with verb and adverb: go far, go first, go upstairs, guess correctly, hit hard, judge harshly, know well…

Noun and Noun

Again these nouns are the ones placed together most often to form a collocation:

Sense of pride – if somebody is proud of somebody else, then they could be said to have a ‘sense of pride’. If we try changing the second noun, you can see how this doesn’t work as well because it’s not something we are used to seeing. Describing somebody as having a ‘sense of shame’ when they feel embarrassed by somebody’s actions is just not commonly used, even if it technically makes sense.

More examples of collocations with noun and noun: core values, corporate finance, cottage industry, creation science, credit bureau, credit union…

Other Types of Collocations

  • Adverb and adverb: only just, pretty well, quite a lot, quite enough, quite often, right away…
  • Adverb and verb: badly damage, deeply rooted (in), never knew, quite agree…
  • Adjective and preposition: comfortable with, concerned with, nasty of, nervous of, nice of, furious about, guilty about…
  • Noun and preposition: date with, dealing with, difficulty with, debate on, information on, hold on…

Collocations Examples in Sentences

Examples of collocations with prepositions at, in, on, to, with…

  • He’s brilliant at football.
  • They are excellent at planning fun parties.
  • The teacher was surprised at the student’s question.
  • She has lost her belief in God.
  • There was no change in the patient’s condition overnight.
  • I need some lessons in how to set up a website.
  • congratulate you on your new job!
  • insist on Peter’s studying every day for two hours.
  • Can we rely on this old car to get us there?
  • I feel very proud to be a part of the team.
  • People are scared to use the buses late at night.
  • It’s nice to know you.
  • You are blessed with many talents.
  • Don’t be careless with your ATM card.
  • The fall in retail sales is directly connected with the decline in employment.

Collocation: 2500+ Collocations List from A-Z with Examples

How to Learn Collocations

Collocations are important if you want to show yourself off to be somebody who truly understands the use of the English language in a way that is common. The best way to learn them is to speak with other people and read other people’s work. You’ll see that certain words are combined in certain ways more often than others, so by copying them you will become used to the words that simply ‘sound right’ when put together and realize when words will ‘sound wrong’, so that you don’t use them anymore. The best part about talking with others is that they can point out when something isn’t right and it gives you the correct collocation instead.

This guide will have hopefully taught you more about collocations and the best way to use them in speech and writing.

Collocations List

Here you will find an amazing list of 2500 common collocations in English with different types and example sentences.

Verb Collocations

Common Verbs Collocations

Other Verb + Noun Collocations

  • Abuse drugs
  • Accept (a) defeat
  • Accept a challenge
  • Accept an apology
  • Accept an invitation
  • Accept responsibility
  • Achieve a goal
  • Admit defeat
  • Against the law
  • Answer a letter
  • Answer a prayer
  • Answer a question
  • Answer an advertisement
  • Answer the door
  • Answer the phone
  • Apply for a job
  • Attract attention
  • Attract sb’s attention
  • Balance a budget
  • Bear a resemblance (to sb/sth)
  • Beat a record
  • Beat to death
  • Blow your nose
  • Book a flight
  • Boost morale
  • Bring about change
  • Bring attention to
  • Bring to an end
  • Bring to justice
  • Call a meeting
  • Call a name
  • Call a strike
  • Call an election
  • Call attention to
  • Call in sick
  • Call sb names
  • Call the police
  • Carry weight
  • Cast a spell
  • Cast a vote
  • Cast doubt
  • Cause trouble
  • Change course
  • Change the subject
  • Change your mind
  • Claim responsibility
  • Close the gap
  • Commit suicide
  • Conduct research
  • Consider a possibility
  • Cost a fortune
  • Cover costs
  • Cross sb’s mind
  • Cut costs
  • Declare war
  • Deliver a baby
  • Doesn’t matter
  • Drop the subject
  • Earn a living
  • Eke out a living
  • Enter a plea
  • Enter politics
  • Exceed expectations
  • Express concern
  • Express interest (in)
  • Extend a deadline
  • Face a challenge
  • Face the fact(s)
  • Fail miserably
  • Fall in love
  • Fight a fire
  • Fight a war
  • Fight corruption
  • Fill a gap
  • Fill in a form
  • Find time
  • Fire a shot
  • Follow a pattern
  • Follow advice
  • Follow directions
  • Follow instructions
  • Gain access
  • Hold a referendum
  • Hold an election
  • Hold an inquiry
  • Hold hands
  • Hold office
  • Hold sb hostage
  • Hold sb prisoner
  • Hold talks
  • Hurt sb’s feelings
  • Impose conditions
  • Impose restrictions
  • Impose sanctions
  • Issue a permit
  • Join a club
  • Join forces
  • Join the army
  • Jump to a conclusion
  • Kick a goal
  • Kill time
  • Know the score
  • Lay the groundwork
  • Lead the field
  • Lead the way
  • Lead the world
  • Lead to believe
  • Leading role
  • Leave a message
  • Leave home
  • Leave school
  • Light a fire
  • Live at home
  • Lose a game
  • Lose a job
  • Lose control
  • Lose faith
  • Lose hope
  • Lose interest
  • Lose money
  • Lose weight
  • Lose your life
  • Lose your temper
  • Love dearly
  • Meet a need
  • Meet a standard
  • Meet a target
  • Meet opposition
  • Meet with approval
  • Miss a flight
  • Miss a goal
  • Miss an opportunity
  • Obey an order
  • Offer a job
  • Offer an explanation
  • Offer condolences
  • Offer your services
  • Open an account
  • Open an investigation
  • Open fire
  • Owe an apology
  • Owe an explanation
  • Pack a suitcase
  • Part company
  • Pass (the) time
  • Pass a law
  • Pass a test
  • Pass the time
  • Pick your nose
  • Place an order
  • Play a part
  • Play music
  • Pose a risk
  • Pose a threat
  • Press a key
  • Pull a muscle
  • Push a button
  • Put on weight
  • Put out a cigarette
  • Put out a fire
  • Put up prices
  • Put up wages
  • Put up your hand
  • Quit a job
  • Quit drinking
  • Quit smoking
  • Raise a family
  • Raise doubts
  • Raise hopes
  • Raise money
  • Raise questions
  • Raise taxes
  • Raise your voice
  • Rapid growth
  • Reach a verdict
  • Reach an agreement
  • Read aloud
  • Repair damage
  • Resort to violence
  • Restore confidence
  • Restore order
  • Retain control
  • Return a call
  • Return fire
  • Return home
  • Run a business
  • Run the risk of
  • Safety net
  • Satisfy a need
  • Satisfy a requirement
  • Satisfy demand
  • Scare tactic
  • Score a goal
  • See reason
  • Serve a purpose
  • Serve interests
  • Set a date
  • Set a goal
  • Set a record
  • Set a standard
  • Set a table
  • Set an alarm
  • Set fire to | set on fire
  • Set menu
  • Solve a crime
  • Solve a problem
  • Spend time
  • Spend your life
  • Stall for time
  • Stand trial
  • Stay awake
  • Strike a balance (btw)
  • Take time off
  • Turn a corner
  • Turn around
  • Undergo surgery
  • Undergo treatment
  • Use sb’s phone
  • Vote against
  • Vote for
  • Wage war
  • Wait your turn
  • Warm welcome
  • Waste an opportunity
  • Waste money
  • Waste time
  • Watch your weight
  • Wave goodbye
  • Win a game
  • Win a war
  • Win an award
  • Win an election
  • Worth a fortune
  • Yield results
  • Regain control

Verb Collocation Example Sentences

Verb collocation examples in sentences.

  • He asked her out to dinner.
  • You get wet in the rain.
  • get tired of educating people.
  • It’s important to get sleep so don’t stay up too long.
  • He always gives a hand to anyone in difficulty.
  • I’ve got to get into town. Can you give me a ride?
  • He gave an idea for new project so he got a promotion.
  • It’s easy to make a mistake.
  • We can’t undertake that you will make a profit.
  • My mom always makes me a sandwich to school
  • We need to make an effort to do well in this competition.
  • The committee has made serious objections to that plan.
  • The old man is going to go crazy.
  • As for myself, I doubt I’ll ever go on a date.
  • I’ll just go online and look up her address.
  • I want to go sailing.
  • I wanted to take a break and work on some things.
  • We will take a chance to have the party outdoor.
  • He had intended to take a holiday in New York.
  • I might take a lesson from you.
  • I’ll take a look at the website and let you know what I think. 
  • Take a rest from your hard work.
  • Take a seat while I get you something to drink.
  • take a step into the center of the circle.
  • We don’t have to take advice from him.
  • Take medicine when you get gripes.
  • Her mental scars will take time to heal.
  • Whatever you do, slow down and take your time.
  • We came to say hello as we were passing through.
  • Why should I say sorry when it’s not my fault?
  • Can I trust you to keep a secret?
  • My mother likes to keep control of everything.
  • Please, keep quite when I’m on the phone.
  • We have to keep scoring the points in the fourth quarter.
  • You must learn to keep your balance in skating.
  • “You and me, today we’re going to break a record, ” he said.
  • Luckily, a bush broke his fall.
  • His son could catch a ball coming toward his left or right.
  • caught her eye and smiled.
  • See you again. Catch you later.

Noun & Preposition Collocations

Noun and Preposition Collocation Example Sentences

Noun and preposition collocation examples in sentences.

  • The school has decided to adopt a different approach to discipline.
  • She was concerned to write about situations that everybody could identify with.
  • I really admire Sarah for her dedication to her family.
  • The invitation to the reception at the embassy arrived the next day.
  • The book is full of references to growing up in India.
  • We received an encouraging response to our advertisement.
  • He will remain head of state during the period of transition to democracy.
  • Dave has close connection with my family.
  • I’ve got a dinner date with Tommy on Saturday.
  • He spoke openly about his involvement with the singer.
  • Tony left after a quarrel with his wife.
  • She received approval for the proposal from the shareholders.
  • At least give her credit for trying.
  • He felt nothing but hatred for his attacker.
  • I’m aware of John’s reputation for being late.
  • We went to see an exhibition of Viking jewellery.
  • His habit of smoking in restaurants caused many problems in California.
  • He was the first to see the possibilities of the plan.
  • He pleaded the cause of the local fishermen.

Adjective & Preposition Collocations

Adjective and preposition collocation examples in sentences.

  • The drought has made farmers anxious about the harvest.
  • He was quite certain about his attacker’s identity.
  • They were very curious about the people who lived upstairs.
  • He’s brilliant at football.
  • They are excellent at planning fun parties.
  • Please don’t be mad at me!
  • Dustin is terrible at texting.
  • He’s got no manners – he’s rude to everyone.
  • It’s good to see you again.
  • She had grown accustomed to his long absences.
  • I’ve never seen two people so attached to each other.
  • Everyone in the class seemed eager to learn.
  • Her dress is almost identical to mine.
  • It’s too late to start complaining now.
  • How are you related to him? Is he your cousin?
  • It was generous of him to offer to pay for us both.
  • You are in danger of being robbed.
  • A crane is a kind of bird with very long legs and neck.
  • It was nice of you to give me a present
  • I’m sick of the way you’ve treated me.
  • I’m sick and tired of all the arguments.
  • It was unkind of you to take his toy away.
  • The kids are busy with their homework.
  • My mother is very clever with her hands.
  • The airport is crowded with stranded travelers.
  • He’s fed up with his job. He wants to quit.
  • She was very gentle with the children.

Verb & Preposition Collocations

Verb and preposition collocation examples in sentences.

  • We depend on our customers’ suggestions.
  • I like to pride myself on my ability to concentrate.
  • She had to apologized to the whole family.
  • Professor Samson attributes this painting to Leonardo.
  • She committed herself to finding a new job.
  • Please contribute to the fund for the needy.
  • Something awful happened to your car.
  • She listens to the radio in the car.
  • object to your opinion.
  • He reacted poorly to the news.
  • He doesn’t care for playing golf.
  • I can’t excuse myself for not doing it.
  • Let me pay for Tom.
  • A hotel room is being prepared for them.
  • She said goodbye and thanked us for coming.
  • She shut her eyes and wished for him to get better.
  • My birthday coincides with a national holiday.
  • He complies with each and every order.
  • My closed is crammed with dirty clothes!
  • The congressman met with strong opposition to his plan.
  • It was hard to distinguish one twin from the other.
  • The swimmer emerged from the lake.
  • I got a letter today. I finally heard from him.
  • I hope that this will result in the police finding your car.
  • Can I trust in the figures in this report?

Verb and Verb Collocations

  • Can’t afford
  • Can’t help
  • Can’t stand
  • Come to expect
  • Cut and paste
  • Copy and paste
  • Come close (to)

Verb and Adverb Collocations

  • Act naturally
  • Act suspiciously
  • Agree wholeheartedly
  • Apologize profusely
  • Arrive on time
  • Become increasingly
  • Behave properly
  • Bleed profusely
  • Come alive
  • Come along nicely
  • Come first
  • Come last
  • Complain bitterly
  • Deal directly
  • Distribute widely
  • Dive headfirst
  • Divide equally
  • Do badly
  • Do well
  • Drive safely
  • Eat quickly
  • Exercise regularly
  • Fail miserably
  • Fall sharply
  • Fare poorly
  • Fight hard
  • Figure prominently
  • Fit sb perfectly
  • Fluctuate wildly
  • Fold neatly
  • Get off lightly
  • Get up early
  • Go astray
  • Go badly
  • Go far
  • Go first
  • Go smoothly
  • Go upstairs
  • Guess correctly
  • Hit hard
  • Judge harshly
  • Know well
  • Laugh hysterically
  • Listen carefully
  • Love dearly
  • Made sth quickly
  • Mean well
  • Need badly
  • Overlook completely
  • Pass quickly
  • Pay extra
  • Perform live
  • Placed gently
  • Play brilliant
  • Prove conclusively
  • Publish widely
  • Rain hard
  • Rain heavily
  • Recommend highly
  • Rely heavily on
  • Remember rightly
  • Resume shortly
  • Run fast
  • Run quickly
  • Running late
  • Shout loudly
  • Sleep soundly
  • Solve easily
  • Speak clearly
  • Speak softly
  • Spell correctly
  • Stare blankly
  • Start off slowly
  • Test thoroughly
  • Think aloud
  • Think critically
  • Travel overseas
  • Treat well
  • Try hard
  • Value highly
  • Walk briskly
  • Wave frantically
  • Whispered softly
  • Work continuously
  • Work perfectly

Other Collocations

Collocations | Pictures

Collocations Examples

Collocations Examples

Collocation Examples | Videos

Learn 70+ Common Adjective and Preposition Combinations with a pronunciation video lesson.

Verbs and Prepositions

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