What Are Collocations? – Examples & Worksheet

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Like Romeo and Juliet, some words are more suitable for each other. These terms, such as absolutely delighted and highly unlikely, naturally go together. They are called English collocations. I use them when writing fiction, but we all use them even in speech.

Keep reading to learn what collocations are. I also provided a list of common collocations and a worksheet to test your understanding.

What Are Collocations?

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A collocation in English grammar is composed of two or more words joined together. Unlike most compound words, these combinations sound so “right” or “natural” that we can’t use synonyms and other alternatives.

One example of a collocation is fast food. You cannot say quick food or fast meal because they sound unnatural. The same is true with a quick shower, which cannot be a fast shower.

What Are the 7 Types of Collocations?

There are seven popular types of collocation made by combining different parts of speech. Here are some of them with a list of more collocation examples.

Adverb + adjective:

  • Absolutely delighted
  • Bitterly cold
  • Bitterly disappointed
  • Blissfully unaware
  • Completely different
  • Conveniently located
  • Deadly serious
  • Deeply divided
  • Desperately eager
  • Fully aware
  • Heavily armed
  • Highly impressed
  • Highly unlikely
  • Mildly amused
  • Painfully shy
  • Patently obvious
  • Perfectly clear
  • Perfectly normal
  • Reasonably priced
  • Really amazing
  • Reasonably priced
  • Scared stiff
  • Seriously ill
  • Sorely missed
  • Vaguely familiar
  • Wildly optimistic

Take a look at these sentence examples.

  • I’m absolutely delighted about the news.
  • My music taste is completely different now.

Adjective + Noun

  • Excruciating pain
  • Big disappointment
  • Bad reputation
  • Big failure
  • Big mistake
  • Big surprise
  • Heavy bag
  • Heavy box
  • Heavy pain
  • Heavy rain
  • Heavy snow
  • Heavy traffic
  • Rich culture
  • Rich people
  • Rich vocabulary
  • Rich history
  • Strong accent
  • Strong smell
  • Strong taste
  • Strong wind
  • Strong drink

Here are some sentence examples.

  • Buying that dress was a big mistake.
  • My new perfume has a strong smell.

Noun + Noun

  • Account executive
  • Accounting firms
  • Accounting system
  • Action movie
  • Air raid
  • Altar boy
  • Boot camp
  • Building code
  • Building permit
  • Bully pulpit
  • Business activity
  • Business enterprise
  • Business organization
  • Cause celebrate
  • Charge card
  • Cheese cake
  • Child care
  • Corporate finance
  • Credit bureau
  • Credit union
  • Death tax
  • Debit card
  • Defense contractor
  • Defense lawyer
  • Departure time
  • Desk job
  • Panic attack
  • Road rage
  • Root cause
  • Service industry
  • Voting machine

Here are some examples of sentences.

  • I will pay for dinner using my debit card.
  • We need to get a building permit before the construction.

Noun + Verb

  • Plane takes off
  • Laid eggs
  • Build a nest
  • Firecracker went off
  • Lion roars
  • Bird sings
  • Doctor advised
  • Teacher taught

Here are some sentence examples with noun + verb collocations.

  • We should board before the plane takes off.
  • The doctor advised me to take pain relievers.

Verb + Noun

  • Have a drink
  • Have lunch
  • Have breakfast
  • Have dinner
  • Break a record
  • Break a leg
  • Break the law
  • Pay attention
  • Pay a visit
  • Make a difference
  • Make money
  • Pay your respects
  • Make progress
  • Save money
  • Save time
  • Save time
  • Do someone a favor
  • Do business
  • Save energy
  • Do your best
  • Take a break
  • Take a look
  • Take notes
  • Catch a bus
  • Catch a cold
  • Catch a thief
  • Come prepared
  • Go bankrupt
  • Go missing
  • Get a job
  • Get drunk
  • Get started
  • Keep a promise
  • Keep calm
  • Keep quiet

Here are some examples of sentences with collocations.

  • I need to take a look in the mirror.
  • I was not able to catch a bus today.

Verb + Expression With Preposition

  • Adapt to
  • Add to
  • Agree to
  • Belong to
  • Consent to
  • React to
  • Refer to
  • Talk to
  • Turn to
  • Admire to
  • Apologize for
  • Apply for
  • Ask for
  • Blame for
  • Came for
  • Wait for
  • Wish for
  • Work for
  • Abstain from
  • Borrow from
  • Escape from
  • Graduate from
  • Hide from
  • Resign from
  • Aim at
  • Arrive at
  • Look at
  • Point at
  • Wink at
  • Bring up
  • Agree on
  • Base on
  • Elaborate on
  • Comment on
  • Insist on
  • Impose on
  • Rely on
  • Work on
  • Argue about
  • Ask about
  • Care about
  • Collide with
  • Help with
  • Succeed in
  • Trust in

Here are some examples.

  • We’re graduating from university this week.
  • I’m asking for my seat to be moved.

Adverb + Verb

  • Badly hurt
  • Badly injured
  • Badly need
  • Closely examine
  • Completely destroy
  • Deeply regret
  • Firmly believe
  • Firmly reject
  • Distinctly remember
  • Completely forget
  • Flatly refuse
  • Freely admit
  • Fully appreciate
  • Fully recover
  • Fully understand
  • Greatly admire
  • Hotly deny
  • Rise steadily
  • Seriously doubt
  • Seriously think
  • Sincerely hope
  • Strongly criticize
  • Thoroughly enjoy
  • Thoroughly inspect

Take a look at these sentence examples.

  • I totally agree with your proposal.
  • You should seriously consider buying this product.

Collocations in Conclusion

A collocation is a pair or more of words that go together. It is composed of different patterns, such as verb + adverb, noun + noun, and verb + noun.

Try to recognize a collocation as soon as you read or hear one. Write it down, find the definition, and use it in a sentence.

COLLOCATIONS WORKSHEET
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