What is a collocation?

Hello lovely students! Today I’m going to be going over collocations with you. Collocations are two or more words that fit perfectly together when spoken or written.

Are you ready to find out more about them?

Let’s get started.

Collocation meaning and what they consist of

The word collocation has two definitions in the Cambridge Dictionary. The first is that collocations are words or phrases that sound natural when put with another word or phrase. The second is that they’re a combination of words formed when two or more words are frequently used together in a way that sounds natural.

Take the phrase fast food.

Fast is an adjective/adverb and food is a noun. Fast has lots of synonyms, including quick and speedy. Yet, saying quick food or speedy food sounds wrong, doesn’t it?

Food also has synonyms such as sustenance or fare. Again saying fast fare or fast sustenance doesn’t sound correct.

This is precisely what is meant by a collocation.

Collocations are made up of adverbs, adjectives, nouns, prepositions and verbs. Find out more about them below.

Remember, fast food is a collocation.

Why are collocations in English important?

It is vital to learn collocations because they enable you to sound more natural when you speak in English. Also, collocations are helpful to revise as they are like ready-made phrases in your head that do not have to be put together every time you speak. They save time.

For example, imagine you want to say something and a collocation is needed. If you know the collocation, you can say it immediately without thinking about it, as it fits perfectly like a puzzle.

Collocations also help learners to speak more idiomatically. Advanced speakers, whether they be native English speakers or non-native English speakers, use them frequently, meaning they are beneficial to know if you want to go up a level in English.

Collocation types and examples

There are lots of collocation types in English. However, I want to tell you about these five combinations that are used most commonly. I’ve written common collocations and their examples in each section. Take a look at them below.

1) Adverb + adjective collocations

2) Adjective + noun collocations

3) Noun + noun collocations

4) Verb + noun collocations

5) Verb + preposition collocations

1) Adverb + adjective collocations

Absolutely delightedRae was absolutely delighted to win first prize.
Perfectly clearIt was perfectly clear that Dale disapproved of Winston.
Reasonably pricedHouses in this area are reasonably priced.
Fully awareI’m fully aware you fancy Sam. It’s pretty obvious.
Eternally grateful They’re eternally grateful for your help.
Deadly seriousI’m deadly serious. I’m not laughing about it.
Deeply regretShe deeply regrets saying that to you.
Strictly forbiddenIt is strictly forbidden to enter this property.
Utterly stupid We feel utterly stupid for not getting the question right.
Highly impressed The teacher was highly impressed with your piano recital.

2) Adjective + noun collocations

Nasty habit Continuously lying is a nasty habit.
Key/main issueThe key issue here is that our investors aren’t willing to listen.
Mixed feelings I have mixed feelings about leaving to move to Spain.
Absolute agonyI have a headache, and I’m in absolute agony.
Common knowledgeIt’s common knowledge we need oxygen to breathe.
Weak point My weak point is that I talk a lot.
Soft spot I have a soft spot for him.
Steady jobBurt is doing really well. He has a new house, a dog, and a steady job too
Important thingAn important thing to remember is to always be polite.
Excruciating painHe was in excruciating pain after falling off his bike.

3) Noun + noun collocations

Abuse of power Abuse of power in the workplace is illegal.
Spice rackThe spice rack in my kitchen is full. I have over 200 jars.
Sense of prideThey felt a sense of pride in their country.
Board gameBoard games are a great way to spend time with family and friends.
Round of applauseThe audience gave a round of applause after the speech.
Hand towel Use a hand towel after washing your hands.
Pang of nostalgiaAs I entered my primary school, I felt a pang of nostalgia.
Withdrawal symptom She’s getting withdrawal symptoms from playing The Sims.
Side effectsA side effect of working from a desk is having a bad back.
Travel expensesKeep the receipts of your travel expenses. You will get a reimbursement later.

4) Verb + noun collocations

Break a promiseYou broke your promise and told people my secret.
Get the messageHe finally got the message and went away.
Go bankrupt I went bankrupt 20 years ago.
Make an effort I like my friend, but she never makes an effort to see me.
Have sympathy She’s acting weird, but I have sympathy for her. She is having a hard time.
Pay/give someone a complimentI paid Joni a compliment, and she said thanks.
Make progressThe teacher said I was making progress with my English.
Break the news I was the journalist that broke the news that day.
Have a restI am so tired. I’m going to have a rest.
Catch a busI catch the bus to work every day.

5) Verb + preposition collocations

Associate withI do not want to associate with my ex-classmate as he is not nice.
Deal withHe doesn’t know how to deal with his finances. He needs help.
Refer toPlease use my name when referring to me.
Specialise inI specialise in mechanics.
Rely onThey rely on AI too much to do their work.
Suffer fromI suffer from terrible hay fever in spring.
Worry aboutDon’t worry about it. You didn’t do it on purpose.
Marvel atThe English students marvelled at how many compound nouns there were in English; they couldn’t believe it.
Glance at He glanced at his homework and decided not to do it.
Dream aboutI dreamt about my horse.

Is that everything?

Absolutely not! Head to my YouTube channel English with Lucy for more engaging English content.