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2500+ Collocations from A-Z (to Speak Like A Native!)


What is a collocation? With so many words for so many different things in the English language, it can feel a little bit like you’re not going anywhere fast as you try to understand it all. But don’t worry, collocations are simple enough things to understand, and they’ll actually benefit you a great deal when you start to use them yourself. This is because a collocation is so often used in English speech and writing, so mastering the use of them is essential for you to be able to speak and write in a way that is both commonly understood, and grammatically correct.


What is a Collocation?

Collocations are words that are frequently placed together. So, a collocation in English is a group of two or more words that are often found together either in English speech or English writing.

This is important, because whilst there are other words available that certainly make sense, collocations are the words that are most often used together. To understand which words go together most often in English is to really show your mastery of the language by highlighting how you are aware of the words that fit best together, because it is used in that way more often than not. There are different types of collocations though, so we’ll take a look at some examples of these to better understand what a collocation really is.

Some typical collocation examples are “pay attention”, “fast food”, “make an effort”, and “powerful engine”.

Collocations make it easier to avoid overused or ambiguous words like “very”, “nice”, or “beautiful”, by using a pair of words that fits the context better and has a more precise meaning. Using collocations will help your English sound naturally like a native speaker.

Collocation Examples

Examples of collocations with take, get, do, make, go…

  • He had intended to take a holiday in New York.
  • He wanted to see if he could get a job with us.
  • I might take a lesson from you.
  • My goals were to go back to school and get a degree.
  • I’ll take a look at the website and let you know what I think. 
  • He was beginning to get angry.
  • Couldn’t you do a favour and leave me alone?
  • She should make a right choice.
  • Could you do a report for me?
  • We are to make a contract for a supply of raw silk with the company.
  • I like to do homework.
  • We need to make a deal for this project.
  • The company is about to go bankrupt.


Types of Collocations

It’s important to understand that the English language has a large number of collocations, but they all fall into the following categories. Of course, there isn’t enough room in this guide to list all possible collocations, but later on, we will discuss how you can learn more for yourself. For now, here are the different types of collocations for you to consider.

Adverbs and Adjectives

These collocations relate to how you describe something in particular. There are words that could be used instead, but in English, we almost always see them like this:

Happily married – if we are describing a joyful marriage, we always say happily married. You wouldn’t expect to see anybody saying something like “They were joyfully married”. Whilst yes, it makes sense and everybody would understand what you meant, it falls slightly odd on English speakers ears because they are just so used to the adverb and adjective collocation of ‘happily married’.

Other examples of collocations with adverb and adjectivefully aware, happily married, highly controversial, highly effective, highly probable, highly profitable…

Adjective and Noun

To describe (adjective) something (noun) using collocations is to describe it in a way that is most often seen in English. Below is a common example:

Major problem – if you are trying to say that something has gone wrong, then telling somebody that you are facing a ‘major problem’ is the correct collocation. If we changed the noun instead of the adjective, you can see that describing other things as major just sounds a little odd. Saying you had a ‘major solution’ to that problem wouldn’t sound right. So you can see how some words just fit together better because they are most commonly put together, allowing us to grow used to hearing or seeing them in that way.

Collocation examples with adjectives and nounsinternal injury, internal organ, irreparable damage, joint account, just cause, key issue, key role…

Noun and Verb

When attributing a verb to a noun, some phrases are just more often combined than others, so this forms a collocation because we become used to seeing the words combined:

Lions roar – when describing what a lion does in an aggressive fight for example, you would expect to see it being described as a ‘lions roar’. Whilst you could say ‘lions shout’ or even ‘bears roar’, it’s less common because they just aren’t put together and it will sound a little odd.

Verb and Noun

This is just the combination above but with the verb first and the noun second. There are phrases here that make more sense when combined together than others:

Booming economy – if you are trying to express how a country’s economy is doing really well at the moment, then you can say that the country has a ‘booming economy’. To say it had a ‘flourishing economy’ would make sense, but it just isn’t seen often enough for people to know instantly what you were talking about. After a little thought on the reader or listener’s side, they would understand the meaning, but when talking or writing our key objective should be to get our point across clearly.

Other examples of collocations with verb and noun: go on a date, go on a picnic, go on foot, have a fight, have a fit, have a game, keep quiet, keep records…

Verbs and Expressions with Prepositions

This is slightly more complicated, but it’s just a way of expressing how something was done. It gives slightly more information than simply saying someone was ‘scared’ etc. Here’s an example of a collocation using this combination of words:

Filled with horror – this tells you that somebody was scared, but by using the verb ‘filled’ and the preposition ‘with’ to express their ‘horror’ or ‘fear’. If you wanted to describe how somebody was feeling worried, you wouldn’t expect to see somebody saying they were ‘filled with nervousness’.

Examples of collocations with verbs and prepositions: allow for, apologize for, ask for, object to, pray to, prefer to …

Verb and Adverb

A collocation made up of a verb and adverb is a collocation that describes how something was done again, but without the use of prepositions:

Cry hysterically – if somebody is really upset they could be said to ‘cry hysterically’, but you wouldn’t expect to see somebody said to ‘cry frantically’ or hear of somebody who was said to ‘smile hysterically’ because it just isn’t common.

More collocation examples with verb and adverb: go far, go first, go upstairs, guess correctly, hit hard, judge harshly, know well…

Noun and Noun

Again these nouns are the ones placed together most often to form a collocation:

Sense of pride – if somebody is proud of somebody else, then they could be said to have a ‘sense of pride’. If we try changing the second noun, you can see how this doesn’t work as well because it’s not something we are used to seeing. Describing somebody as having a ‘sense of shame’ when they feel embarrassed by somebody’s actions is just not commonly used, even if it technically makes sense.

More examples of collocations with noun and noun: core values, corporate finance, cottage industry, creation science, credit bureau, credit union…

Other Types of Collocations

Adverb and adverb: only just, pretty well, quite a lot, quite enough, quite often, right away…

Adverb and verbbadly damage, deeply rooted (in), never knew, quite agree…

Adjective and prepositioncomfortable with, concerned with, nasty of, nervous of, nice of, furious about, guilty about…

Noun and preposition: date with, dealing with, difficulty with, debate on, information on, hold on…

Collocations Examples in Sentences

Examples of collocations with prepositions at, in, on, to, with…

  • He’s brilliant at football.
  • They are excellent at planning fun parties.
  • The teacher was surprised at the student’s question.
  • She has lost her belief in God.
  • There was no change in the patient’s condition overnight.
  • I need some lessons in how to set up a website.
  • congratulate you on your new job!
  • insist on Peter’s studying every day for two hours.
  • Can we rely on this old car to get us there?
  • I feel very proud to be a part of the team.
  • People are scared to use the buses late at night.
  • It’s nice to know you.
  • You are blessed with many talents.
  • Don’t be careless with your ATM card.
  • The fall in retail sales is directly connected with the decline in employment.
Collocation: 2500+ Collocations List from A-Z with ExamplesPin

How to Learn Collocations

Collocations are important if you want to show yourself off to be somebody who truly understands the use of the English language in a way that is common. The best way to learn them is to speak with other people and read other people’s work. You’ll see that certain words are combined in certain ways more often than others, so by copying them you will become used to the words that simply ‘sound right’ when put together and realize when words will ‘sound wrong’, so that you don’t use them anymore. The best part about talking with others is that they can point out when something isn’t right and it gives you the correct collocation instead.

This guide will have hopefully taught you more about collocations and the best way to use them in speech and writing.

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