What is ‘collocation’? Collocation involves putting single words together in ways that are natural, nice sounding, and regularly used by most speakers. Remember, English has the most vocabulary of any language in the word, and these words fit together in generally accepted patterns. The term ‘collocation’ appears in the Band 7 Speaking and Writing IELTS Descriptors (public version).
Speaking IELTS 7
Shows some awareness of style and collocation
Writing IELTS 7
Uses words with some awareness of style and collocation
Source: Public Version of the IELTS Band Descriptors
This means collocation is equally important for both Speaking and Writing. Let us look at examples. Many Chinese speakers, translating directly from their language, will say …
… but better speakers will say …
- strong wind
- loud noise
- heavy/torrential rain
- serious damage
- heavy pressure
- extreme stress
The second examples show better ‘collocation’. These examples are (adj.) + (n.), but there are others.
Read any sample essay in my IELTS Test Practice Book (see picture at right) to see examples of beautiful collocation – certainly easily worthy of an IELTS 9. Here are some examples from Page 161 of this book.
Verb + Noun
Adjective + Noun
Adverb + Verb
Adverb + Adjective
launch a spacecraft
These single examples of collocation are often combined in sentences, as shown below [collocation coloured].
‘Space is undeniably a mysterious frontier, its limitless realms essentially unexplored’.
And, here’s an example for a Writing Task One Answer (page 149).
‘… the ascendancy of salads, which, originally the least consumed, gain increasing favour, and, if predictions prove correct, are destined to eventually rival their carbohydrate-heavy counterparts.’
So, an IELTS 7 begins to show an ‘awareness’ of this. IELTS 8 or 9 users of the language just do it better. This section will give you this awareness, piece by piece. It is the key to a higher IELTS score. Good luck.
And now, here is the usual warning: memorising this vocabulary and writing it mechanically usually takes your mark down! A constant theme in this website (and my IELTS books) is that memorisation is the wrong strategy.
Notice that the words are given one at a time, with full explanations, other forms of the word, and example sentences. Play with the words one at a time, explore the meaning, check it also in your dictionary, and write it in your vocabulary notebook with an example sentence [Reading Strategy #6]. Remember, simply studying a list of words is a BAD strategy [Check: Tricks Bad School Use #3].
[Be patient: more material will be added – but I’m VERY busy].