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Collocation is a way in which some words are often used together, and sound natural together.

This also refers to restrictions on how words may be used together, such as which verbs and
nouns and can be used, and which prepositions and verbs can be used together.
For example: We often say heavy rain, or light rain, instead of stron rain, or mild rain, heavy goes
well with rain, whereas strong does not. This sort of language behaviour is called collotcation.
There are many cases in English when it is difficult to know which words go well with the word
you want to use, because there are no clear rules. Some words just sound together, while others
do not.
Verbs that collocate with nouns
When you use a noun in a sentence, you need to know which verbs go well with it. Learners often
mistake with these verbs. For example:
-

Instead
Instead
Instead
Instead

of
of
of
of

saying do a bath; you say take a bath


do an effort; you say make an effort
do a crime; you say commit a crime
say a joke; you say tell a joke, make a joke, or crack a joke

Adverbs that collocate with adjectives


For example, there are a number of intesigying adverbs that can be used instead of 'very' or
'extreme;y' with adjectives, such as:
- highly controversial (=very controversial_
-> highly = adverb + controversial = adjective
-> depply offended (=very offended_
-> bitterly disappointed (=very disappointed)
Often it is difficult to predict which adverb will be used with a particular adjective. Some adverbs
occur quite often before some adjectives, e.g. perfectly normal (=very normal) and grossly
misleading (=very...)
- bitterly ashamed/ disappointed/cold NOT bitterly succesful
- highly successful/accomplished NOTE highly divided/grateful
- deeply divided/grateful/unpopular NOT deeply developed
Adjectives taht collocate with nouns
When you want ot describe a noun, there is often a range od adjectives you can use. e.g. you can
say a stronr, real or distinct possibility when something is very possible, or a remote, or faint
possiblity if something is not very likely.
EXERCISE: COLLOCATIONS
Retrospect

contemporary
bygone
immediate
preceding current
topical
status quo
A. Directions: Complete the sentences with the words listed. Use a dictionary to help you check
collocations with the words in bold. There may be more than one possible answer.
1. The exhibition contains faded photographs reminding us of a _____era.
2. He mixes _____ideas with those of years gone by.
3. There will always be people who resist change and want to maintain the ____.
4. The _____ effect of war was a breakdown in law and order on the streets.
5. In _____, and with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that this was a bad decision.
6. I prefer this newspaper because it covers the most ____ news stories.
7. On New Year's Day, people often stop and reflect on all that happened in the ____ year.
8. In previous years, the library was always very busy, but our ___ students seem to prefer to
study in the privacy of their own room.

B. The word 'change' can collocate with all of the adjectives in the box. Use these words
together with the word 'change' and indicate whether the adjectives mean 'large' or 'small'
change.
1. Enormous ________
2. Complete ________
3. Extraordinary ______
4. Infinitesimal ________
5. Minute ________
6. Immense ________
7. Sweeping ________
8. Moderate ________
9. Total ________
10.Graduate ________
11.Minor ________
12.Drastic ________
13.Dramatic ________
14.profound________
15.tremendous ________
16.slight ________
17.major ________
18.modest ________
19.huge ________
C. The adjectives below can describe the nature or speed of change. Highlight or underline the
synonyms of 'change' in the sentences below. Then complete the sentences with the
adjectives listed.
Smooth

gradual
turbulent
abrupt
sudden
Rapid
temporary
1. Everyone was grateful that there had been a very _____ transition between governments.
2. The stock market crash lead to a very _____ reversal in fortunes for many people.
3. The government is hoping that this is only a ____ shift in public opinion.
4. There was a ____ improvement in our sales figures from 1990 to 2010, and this helped bring
about our transformation from a small local company to a global leader.
5. This has been a _____ period involving a great deal of struggle and hardship. But it is a
necessary part of our evolution.
6. We are slowly witnessing a _____ movement in favour of surveillance.
D. Directions: Look at the graph and find the following:
a
a
a
a
a
a

gradual increase
temporary levelling out
steady rise
very slight rise
slight fall
marked difference

E. Complete the description below with the words in the box


Periodic
period
temporarily
remained
and
Steady
steadily
by
from
trend
The graph shows changes in the price of fresh fruits and vegetables, sugar and sweets, and
carbonated drinks over a thirty-year _________ in the US between 1979 ____2009. The graph also
shows the general _____ in the consumer proce index during this time.
While the consumer price index showed a slow and ____ increase from 1979 to 2009, the same
cannot be said for the price of carbonated, or soft drinks. After rising briefly between 1979 and
1981, they _____ fairly constant until 1999, when the price did begin to increase slowly.
In contrast, there was a marked difference in the price of fresh fruits and vegetables, which
despite ____ fluctuations rose ____ throughout this period. In fact, fresh food prices only levelled
out _____ between 1990 and 1992 and again ____ 2000 to 2001. However, _____ 2008 the price
had increased by more than 300%.
F. Check the meanings of the phrasal verbs in the box. Replace the underlined phrases in the
sentences below with a phrasal verb from the box. There may be more than one possible
answer.
fit in (with)
opt out (of)
break away (from) drop out (of)

stand out (from)


join in

blend in (with)

1. I feel uncomfortable if I'm forced to participate in group activities.


2. I don't like to be noticeable in the crowd. I'd rather look the same as everyone else.
3. My friends started going out late to nightclubs so I decided to dissociate myself from the
group.
4. When people feel isolated and rejected, they sometimes abandon society altogether.
5. New migrants may feel that by changing to assimilate into their new community, they are
losing some part of their individuality.

G. Directions: Use a dictionary to check the meaning of the following words. Use them to
complete the sentences below.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Celebrities are extremely ___ in setting fashion trends.


The chart shows that people over 65 form the fastest-growin population _____.
Many rich people ____their wealth through their expensive cars and grand houses.
These figures are ____ because not all of our customers have paid their bill yet.
Not everyone dreams of a quiet,_____ life. Many find it dull and boring.
I soon realised my ___when I was asked to use the tradesman's entrance.

H. Decide which word or phrase completes the sentence.


1. He didn't know anything about business, so starting his own business was _____.
a. a leap into the clouds
b. a leap in the dark
c. a leap into
the whole
2. I hate the way he criticises everybody. It really rattles ____/
a. my back
b. my bones
c. my cage
3. When her business crashed, she had to pick up___and start again.
a. the fragments
b. the pieces
c. the stones
4. She felt sad when she realized that she had lost her watch. It wasn't expensive but it had
sentimental ____.
a. expense
b. price
c. value
5. I used to go to church under false _____. I never wanted to go but my mother made me.
a. agreements
b. feelings
c. pretences