English Collocations – Types and Examples

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Collocations are the keys to use ENGLISH more like a native speaker. Learning English Collocations may help students and readers build essential vocabulary and learn to speak more fluent and natural-sounding English.

In general, a Collocation is a pair or group of two or more words that are often used together by native speakers.

Some common examples are:

  • blond hair (Not Yellow Hair)
  • make friends (Not Get Friends)
  • make mistakes (Not Do Mistakes)
  • heavy rain (Not Strong Rain)

When we make mistakes with collocations, the listeners will usually understand us but our English won’t sound natural because it’s different from how a native speaker would talk.

Therefore, if you want your English to sound natural, you have to make efforts to learn collocations since they are difficult to guess.

Types of Collocations –

  1. Verb + Noun
  2. Verb + Verb
  3. Noun + Verb
  4. Noun + Noun
  5. Adjective + Noun
  6. Adjective + Adjective
  7. Adverb + Adjective
  8. Adverb + Adverb
  9. Verb + Adverb
  10. Phrase

1. Verb + Noun

Some common examples are: launch a product, play a joke/trick, create opportunities, do homework, make the bed, abuse drugs, accept a challenge, accept an apology, commit murder etc.

Example 1 – Attend a school (to go to a school)

  • It is important for children to attend a school.
  • Her daughter prefers to attend a school that provides education for females only.

Example 2 – Abuse drugs (to use illegal drugs in a way that is harmful to your health)

  • Alex has abused drugs for over 4 years.
  • He died early due to abusing drugs for many years.

2. Verb + Verb

Some common examples are: can’t afford, can’t help, can’t stand, don’t care, don’t mind, keep going, make believe etc.

Example 1 – Get changed (to take off the clothes you are wearing and put on different ones)

  • She got changed and went to the party.
  • Your clothes are wet, so you should go and get changed right now.

Example 2 – Hate to think (do not want to think or imagine about something because it is unpleasant or upsetting)

  • Peter hates to think how much money he has spent on gambling.
  • Joe hates to think she has lost over $10000.

3. Noun + Verb

Some common examples are: phone rings, lion roars, the plane took off, the bomb went off etc

Example 1 – Ideas flow (ideas follow each other in a natural way without anything stopping, especially in an easy)

  • His ideas flow smoothly in the essay because of his skillful use of varied sentence structures.
  • The ideas flow freely from least to most important.

Example 2 – Phone rings (telephone rings) (if your phone rings, it makes a loud clear sound)

  • You might be in trouble if your phone rings in private places.
  • Her phone rang while she was taking a shower in the bathroom.

4. Noun + Noun

Some common examples are: action movie, abuse of power, block of flats, contact details, desk job, interest rate, job opportunity, junk food, living conditions etc.

Example 1 – Piece of advice (a particular suggestion that someone gives you about the best thing to do in a particular situation)

  • Would you like me to give you a piece of advice?
  • I think you should get a piece of advice from your doctor.

Example 2 – Return ticket (a ticket for travel to a place, and then back again)

  • If you buy a return ticket, it will be cheaper than two one-way tickets.
  • Bill was not allowed to board the flight back to USA due to his invalid return ticket.

5. Adjective + Noun

Some common examples are: empty promise, tough question, alternative medicine, bad breath, bad temper, big brother, big money, regular exercise, clean energy, common knowledge, bright future, bright idea, broken home, casual clothes etc.

Example 1 – Rough draft (the first version of a piece of writing, a book or a document which is unedited)

  • Alex has just completed a rough draft of his first book.
  • The teacher requested him to edit or rewrite the rough draft of his essay.

Example 2 – Good team player (a person who works well with other people as part of a team or group)

  • Alex is a good team player. I always like to work with him.
  • Are you a good team player.

6. Adjective + Adjective

Some common examples are: boiling hot, neat and tidy, safe and sound etc.

Example 1 – Neat and tidy (clean and organized, not messy)

  • Marry’s house looks very neat and tidy.
  • My mom likes everything neat and tidy.

Example 2 – Safe and sound (free from damage, danger, hurt or injury)

  • It was a rough trip, but we arrived home safe and sound.
  • We are glad to see you here safe and sound.

7. Adverb + Adjective

Some common examples are: bitterly cold, badly hurt, bitterly disappointed, fully aware, utterly stupid, fast asleep, seriously ill etc.

Example 1 – Utterly ridiculous (extremely silly or unreasonable)

  • You’ll look utterly ridiculous in that short skirt.
  • I though his idea was utterly ridiculous.

Example 2 – Well worth (be certainly deserving of something or doing something)

  • Your idea is well worth consideration.
  • Paris is well worth a visit.

8. Adverb + Adverb

Some common examples are: all along, almost certainly, far away, hardly ever, just now, long ago, quite a lot/a bit, right away, straight ahead, quite often etc.

Example 1 – Well ahead (further advanced than someone or something/much earlier or sooner than someone or something)

  • Marry is trying to finish her doctoral thesis well ahead of the deadline.
  • Tom finished the race well ahead of the other racers.

Example 2 – Yet again (one more time, after many other times)

  • The flight was delayed yet again.
  • Prices of oil increased yet again.

9. Verb + Adverb

Some common examples are: become increasingly, arrive on time, ear properly, need badly, try hard, do likewise, fight hard, read aloud, whisper softly, vaguely remember etc.

Example 1 – Ask a question (to ask somebody to tell you something when you want information)

  • The police asked him questions all day.
  • If you want to ask a question, please raise your hand.

Example 2 – Arrive on time (to arrive at the correct time and not late)

  • The plane arrived was on time.
  • Don’t worry, Tom will arrive on time.

10. Phrase

Some common examples are: burst into tears, run out of money, be filled with horror etc.

Example 1 – Bear in mind (to remember)

  • Bear in mind that I can’t run as fast as you.
  • We should bear in mind that time is money.

Example 2 – See eye to eye (to agree or have the same opinion with someone about something)

  • Jane and her mother don’t see eye to eye on many things.
  • Tom and his girlfriend see eye to eye on most things, so they don’t often have fights.
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