what is collocations

A collocation is made up of two or more words that are commonly used together in English. Think of collocations as words that usually go together. There are different kinds of collocations in English. Strong collocations are word pairings that are expected to come together, such as combinations with ‘make’ and ‘do’: You make a cup of tea, but you do your homework. Collocations are very common in business settings when certain nouns are routinely combined with certain verbs or adjectives. For example, draw up a contract, set a price, conduct negotiations, etc.

Collocation Examples

Here are a number of common collocations in English:

to make the bed I need to make the bed every day.
to do homework My son does his homework after dinner.
to take a risk Some people don’t take enough risks in life.
to give someone advice The teacher gave us some advice on taking tests.

Verb Collocations

Some of the most common collocations involve verb + noun collocations used in everyday situations. Here are some examples of the types of verb collocations you will need as you continue learning English.

to feel free Please feel free to take a seat and enjoy the show.
to come prepared Make sure to come prepared for the test tomorrow.
to save time You’ll save time if you turn off your smart phone and concentrate on the lesson.
to find a replacement We need to find a replacement for Jim as soon as possible.
to make progress We’re making progress on the project at work.
to do the washing up I’ll do the washing up and you can put Johnny to bed.

Business Collocations

Collocations are often used in business and work settings. There are a number of forms including adjectives, nouns and other verbs that combine with keywords to form business expressions. Here are some business collocations for specific situations.

to open an account Would you like to open an account at our bank?
to forgive a debt Do you think the bank would forgive a debt?
to land a deal We landed a deal worth $3 million.
to key in a PIN Just key in your PIN at the ATM and you can make a deposit.
to deposit a check I’d like to deposit this check for $100.
hard-earned money Once you get a job, you’ll know what hard-earned money really is.
to close a deal I closed a deal on a new account last week.
to write up a contract Let’s write up your contract.
counterfeit money Be on the lookout for counterfeit money in circulation.

Common Expressions

Collocations are often used as short expressions to describe how someone feels about a situation. In this case, collocations can be used in the adjective form, or also as emphatic expressions using an intensifier and a verb. Here are a few examples using some common collocations:

positively encourage someone to do something

We’d like to positively encourage you to buy this stock.

deeply regret the loss of someone / something

I deeply regret the loss of your loved one.
to be in an utter fury over something Tom’s in an utter fury over the misunderstanding with his wife.
to go to great lengths to do something He went to a great length to explain the situation.