Linguistic Terms

Collocation with examples

Collocation and its description

Collocation

In English, a collocation is two or more words that go together naturally. Learning collocations is essential for making your English sound fluent and natural.

A word combination is a combination of two or more significant words, related in meaning and grammatically, serving to dissect a single concept (object, quality, action, etc.).
The phrase is considered as a unit of syntax that performs a communicative function (is included in the speech) only as part of a sentence.

Components of the collocation 

Several linguists distinguish two components of the collocation: the base and the collocative . The base qualifies a word freely chosen by the speaker to express a concept, whereas the collocative designates the component attached to the base and whose use is constrained in the language. In this sense, we say that collocation is a “semi-constrained” association of words .

For example, the sequence “hardened single” includes the base “single”, in its common sense, and the collocative “hardened” which expresses, when combined with “single”, a particular meaning.  

This is a collection of two or more words that are normally seen together because that is the way they are used. Examples include the following:

  • noun phrases – heavy rain; weak coffee
  • phrasal verbs – to put down; to give up
  • common phrases – the rich and famous

The problem with collocations, of course, is knowing that we say ‘heavy rain’ and not ‘strong rain’. Strong does not collocate with rain, heavy does.
In the example ‘to chair a meeting’, the verb ‘chair’ is used with ‘meeting’. We do not use other verbs, such as ‘take’, because ‘take’ does not collocate with ‘meeting’ for this meaning.

English Collocations With The Word BIG

The word big is often used in collocations with a happening or event, for example:

  • a big accomplishment
  • a big decision
  • a big disappointment
  • a big failure
  • a big improvement
  • a big mistake
  • a big surprise

(Big is also used when talking about size – click here to learn the difference between big, large, tall, and long in English.)

English Collocations With The Word GREAT

The word great is often used in collocations with feelings or qualities.

Great + feelings

  • great admiration
  • great anger
  • great enjoyment
  • great excitement
  • great fun
  • great happiness
  • great joy

Great + qualities

  • in great detail
  • great power
  • great pride
  • great sensitivity
  • great skill
  • great strength
  • great understanding
  • great wisdom
  • great wealth

English Collocations With The Word LARGE

The word large is often used in collocations involving numbers and measurements.

  • a large amount
  • a large collection
  • a large number (of)
  • a large population
  • a large proportion
  • a large quantity
  • a large scale

English Collocations With The Word STRONG

The word strong is often used in collocations with facts and opinions:

Strong + facts/opinions

  • strong argument
  • strong emphasis
  • strong evidence
  • a strong contrast
  • a strong commitment
  • strong criticism
  • strong denial
  • a strong feeling
  • a strong opinion (about something)
  • strong resistance

Strong + senses

  • a strong smell
  • a strong taste

English Collocations With The Word DEEP

The word deep is used for some strong feelings:

  • deep depression
  • deep devotion

It is also used in these expressions:

  • in deep thought
  • in deep trouble
  • in a deep sleep (when the person won’t wake up easily)

English Collocations With The Word HEAVY

Heavy is used for some weather conditions…

  • heavy rain
  • heavy snow
  • heavy fog

The word heavy is also used for people with bad habits:

  • a heavy drinker
  • a heavy smoker
  • a heavy drug user

There’s also the expression “a heavy sleeper” – that’s not someone who sleeps a lot; instead, it’s a person who doesn’t wake up easily when sleeping.

The word heavy is also used in collocations with two unpleasant things: TRAFFIC and TAXES!

  • heavy traffic
  • heavy taxes

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