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English Grammar Collocations

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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Have you ever thought; what are collocations? Common linguistic associations between words are called collocations. Meaning is created by the combination of these words that cannot be deduced from the meanings of the terms taken separately. We prefer “make a mistake” over “do a mistake” and “commit a mistake.” The same goes for the difference between “take a shower” and “have a shower” or “do a shower.”

Collocation: What Is It?

One might wonder what is collocation? Collocations meaning is the frequent occurrence of two or more words that have the same meaning and are often used together. Let’s pretend we mean the same thing when we say it’s pouring heavily rather than when we say it’s huge or severe rain.

Despite this, in the aforementioned scenario, either “strong rain” or “big rain” would be appropriate. They are both grammatically sound. However, the terms heavy rain or torrential downpour will sound out of place. Heavy rain is used because it makes the English sound more natural and sophisticated.

There are numerous more situations when we utilize a certain cluster of words to make our speech seem more genuine. Collocations may also be thought of as a set of words that are often used together. Taking risks, making your bed, and doing your schoolwork are all instances of collocations.

The aforementioned are not the only justifications for using collocations. Some of collocations examples are:

  • Adding flair and spontaneity to one’s English use.
  • Due to its sequential nature, it facilitates adherence to the standard English grammatical sequence.
  • Facilitates the enhancement of linguistic beauty
  • Improve the effectiveness of your word choice or phrase construction.
  •  The English language improves and becomes more open to new ideas because of the use of collocations.

Types of collocation

Collocations in Grammar

Word pairs that adhere to certain grammatical norms and occur often in everyday speech are called collocations. Words that share a syntactic connection, like a verb and the object it modifies, a preposition and the noun it refers to, or an adjective and the noun it describes, form these collocations.

A grammatical collocation would be “take a shower,” as “take” is a verb that takes an object, and “shower” is the object of “take.” The phrase “in love with” is also a collocation since the preposition “in” necessitates an object and the word “love” is the noun that follows it.

Learning grammatical collocations may help you utilize the English language more effectively and efficiently, as well as avoid making certain typical mistakes. Understanding the grammatical principles that govern these often-used word combinations can help us become better writers and speakers.

Lexical collocations

Lexical collocations are pairs of words that have a high frequency of occurrence and a close relationship in a given language but do not necessarily adhere to a regular grammatical structure. These collocations depend on the meanings of the terms and their regular use in context.

For instance, “heavy rain” is a lexical collocation because the terms “heavy” and “rain” are regularly used together to denote a certain sort of rain that is severe or considerable in volume. Similarly, “fast food” is a colloquialism since it combines the terms “fast” and “food” to refer to a cuisine that may be cooked and eaten in a short amount of time.

Learning lexical collocations may be especially difficult for students of foreign languages since they may defy conventional grammatical analysis. The student’s prior knowledge of the language and its context are instead relied upon. The ability to communicate fluently and naturally in a language is greatly enhanced by learning and making use of lexical collocations.

Idiomatic collocations

Idiomatic collocations are word combinations with a meaning that cannot be deduced from the meanings of the terms taken singly. These collocations, which are endemic to a given language or culture, are frequently employed in everyday communication.

To “kick the bucket” signifies “to die” in an idiomatic collocation. Although the terms “kick” and “bucket” seem unrelated to one other, when used together they share a common meaning. Like “good luck,” the idiomatic collocation “break a leg” conveys the same sentiment.

Learning the meaning of idiomatic collocations may be difficult for students of a foreign language since the meanings of the individual words in the phrase are not always obvious. They frequently need familiarity with the local language and culture for complete comprehension. Nonetheless, knowing and using appropriate idiomatic collocations is an integral part of speaking and writing in a way that sounds natural and sophisticated.

How to Recognize and Use Collocations

Several methods exist to aid in the contextual recognition and use of collocations:

  • Extensive reading in the target language is a great approach to familiarize oneself with collocations. This will help you get familiar with a variety of collocations and use them appropriately.

  • Consult a dictionary of collocations: A collocation dictionary provides frequent collocations for a certain language or phrase. You can use these dictionaries to research a word’s collocations by looking up the word in question.

  • Observe recurring events: Collocations frequently follow established trends in terms of word order or the sort of words that are employed. For example, numerous adjectives have particular nouns that they frequently collocate by, such as “heavy rain” or “hot coffee”. You may improve your ability to recognize and utilize collocations by paying attention to these trends.

  • Use context clues: Collocations typically occur in certain situations and have particular significance in those circumstances. It is frequently possible to discern the meaning of collocation from its context of usage and utilize it correctly.

  • It is recommended that you practice employing collocations in context to enhance your usage of them. Writing sentences or paragraphs that incorporate target collocations is one approach; conversing with and practicing the language with others who are also developing their collocation skills is another.

Using these methods regularly may help you become fluent in your target language by increasing your ability to recognize and use collocations in context.

Examples of Collocation

Some frequent adverb, adjective, verb, and preposition combinations are as follows:


  • A deluge
  • Bright sunlight
  • High heels
  • Traffic jam
  • Mind your manners
  • Get a cold
  • Get some rest.
  • Fast food
  • Transport en masse
  • That’s some good news


  • Deep slumber
  • Strong coffee
  • Pure water
  • Acrid flavor
  • Vivid hues
  • Extreme congestion
  • Intense agony
  • Polar vortex
  • Strident tunes
  • Gentle tone


  • Come to a conclusion
  • Do some laundry
  • Have a conversation
  • Counsel me
  • Keep a promise
  • Move forward
  • Violate a norm
  • Slim down
  • Spend less
  • Take a nap


  • Curios about
  • Irrespective of
  • In keeping with
  • devotees of
  • accountable for
  • participated in
  • Happy with
  • accustomed to
  • Comparable to
  • Related to

Since the meanings and applications of collocations vary greatly depending on context and usage, it is vital to study them in a wide range of settings.

Rules for Collocation

Groups of words that often occur together in a language are called collocations, and they are essential to the fluidity and naturalness of both speech and writing. Some guidelines for the correct use of collocations in English are provided below.

  • Make an effort to employ word combinations that arise naturally in spoken and written English. Replace “make a decision” to “take a decision” or can also be said, “reach a decision,”.

  • As collocations tend to vary from language to language, it’s best to avoid direct translations of phrases from your original tongue. Learn and utilize the collocations most often seen in written and spoken English instead.

  • Take care with your grammar: Make sure the sentence grammar is proper while utilizing collocations. The expression “make a mistake” is marked, while “do a mistake” is considered incorrect.

  • Take special care with prepositions, since they are often used in collocations and need precise usage. We don’t just “take” exams, but rather “pass” them. Always utilize the proper preposition when working with collocations.

  • Keep in mind that various registers and circumstances may call for the use of distinct collocations. For instance, although “get a job” is OK for casual chat, “secure employment” could be more suited for a professional paper.

Following these guidelines can help you utilize collocations more effectively and speak English with more fluency and naturalness.

Tips for Learning Collocations

Learn more about collocations by following these guidelines:

  • Do lots of reading: As indicated before, reading widely in your target language may allow you to get acquainted with a broad variety of collocations. Learn new collocations by reading widely and paying close attention to the context in which they are used.

  • Make use of a thesaurus of collocations The most common combinations of words can be found in a collocation dictionary. These dictionaries are great resources for learning about the meaning and use of collocations.

  • Create a collocations journal: Keeping a notebook with often used collocations might aid in their memorization. Jot down the collocations and their definitions, then start incorporating them into your writing and speech.

  • To hone your use of collocations: Engage in conversation or other language practice with others, or write sentences or paragraphs in which you use collocations. This can help you comprehend the collocations and employ them more readily.

  • Learn collocations in phrases, not simply individual words: Since the meaning of collocations can change depending on the surrounding text, it is best to study them alongside the phrases or idioms in which they are most frequently used. Rather than only learning the word “rain,” it would be helpful to understand the collocation of “heavy rain.”

  • Spaced repetition is a technique for improving long-term retention that entails reviewing material at progressively longer intervals. Learning collocations can be aided by spaced repetition methods, in which the time between reviews is lengthened as the learner’s familiarity with the material grows.

You can learn and use collocations in your target language more effectively by adhering to these guidelines.

Common Errors with Collocations

Learners often make the following mistakes when first encountering collocations:

  • Using the incorrect preposition: Many collocations include certain prepositions that are used in a particular manner. To avoid confusion, we use things like “interested in” and “dependent on” instead of “interested on” and “dependent on.”

  • Using the wrong verb form some collocations call for the infinitive, the gerund, or the participle. Words like “break” or “advice” are not pluralized to avoid confusion. 

  • The use of the wrong word order can cause confusion or an unnatural expression, as many collocations have established word order patterns. If it’s raining heavily, we say “heavy rain,” but if the water is clear, we say “clear water.”

  • Overusing or abusing idiomatic collocations: Idiomatic collocations may be problematic for learners since their meanings cannot be simply derived from the individual words. When used incorrectly or excessively, idiomatic collocations can cause misunderstandings.

  • Some collocations are only appropriate for certain situations, and it’s possible to come across as unnatural or rude if you use them in a different setting. In a business meeting, for instance, it’s probably not a good idea to use a slang collocation.

Studying collocations in context and paying attention to how they are used can help you avoid making these mistakes. The accuracy and naturalness of your use of collocations can be enhanced by practicing them in context and receiving feedback from a teacher or native speaker.

Collocation Infographics

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Key Takeaways

  1. Collocations are pairs of words that occur often in conversation or writing without any effort on the part of the speaker or writer.

  2. There are many sorts of collocations, including noun + noun, verb + noun, adjective + noun, and adverb + adjective.

  3. Idiomatic collocations are those whose meaning cannot be deduced from the meanings of their component words.

  4. Learning collocations calls for exposure to the terms in context, the use of real-world examples, and guided practice with immediate feedback.

  5. Making these common collocation mistakes: employing the wrong preposition, the improper verb form, or utilizing the collocation in an unsuitable sentence.

  6. It’s important to keep the context of a phrase in mind because the meaning of collocation can shift depending on the situation.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can collocations change in different contexts or situations?

Collocations may shift depending on the setting or circumstance. Collocations’ meaning and use might shift depending on the surrounding text. The phrase “heavy traffic” may mean either a big number of vehicles on a city street or a large number of people waiting in a certain area, depending on the setting. Similarly, “fast food” may mean both a specific kind of restaurant that provides meals quickly and cheaply and harmful cuisine that should be avoided when discussing health and well-being. Therefore, to correctly analyze the meaning and use of a collocation, it is essential to comprehend the context in which it is employed.

What are some common errors to avoid with collocations?

Using improper prepositions, the wrong verb form, the wrong word order, overusing or abusing idiomatic collocations, and using collocations in unsuitable situations are all collocation examples of common problems. The best way to avoid making these mistakes is to study collocations in context, pay attention to usage trends, and practice using feedback.

Can collocations change in different contexts or situations?

Collocations may shift depending on the setting or circumstance. Collocation meaning and use might shift depending on the surrounding text. Therefore, to correctly analyze the meaning and use of a collocation, it is essential to comprehend the context in which it is employed.

How do I improve my understanding and use of collocations?
  • Read and listen to native English-language content to recognize and learn collocations in context; this will greatly enhance your ability to understand and use collocations.
  • To learn and use collocations, use a collocation dictionary or an online tool.
  • Engage in conversational and compositional exercises to hone your use of collocations.
  • Get feedback from an instructor or native speaker to enhance accuracy and naturalness.
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