Collocation: the other key to IELTS 7 (5 of 16)

collocation the other key to ielts 7 5 of 16

Collocation: the other key to IELTS 7 (5 of 16)

Collocation is the key to getting a higher IELTS Writing and Speaking score, but it is not easy. Students often do not collocate words very well (which is why they don’t receive IELTS 7 or 8). To do this, all the parts of speech [adjectives & nouns, verbs & adverbs, prepositions & nouns, and others] must fit together in accepted patterns, stylishly and nice, while all the time conveying clear and precise meaning – like the video at the top of this page. Watch it, and notice all the parts of this complex creation blend together perfectly. This is what your writing should be like.

Well, to have ‘a sense of collocation’ (= IELTS 7), you need to have some familiarity with English. So, start reading all my pixnet posts, and getting this familiarity, right? In the meantime, the following exercises will help.

Time to Practice

Can you ‘fix’ the following sentences by changing (or removing) the underlined word? There may be different ways to answer these. The answers will be in the next ‘collocation’ post.

  1. This could create a serious hurt.
  2. The damage of a nuclear bomb is great.
  3. Nuclear eruptions can kill millions.
  4. Army recruits cannot train peacefully.
  5. Students must obey the laws of school.
  6. People need huge courage to fight back against bullies.
  7. This medicine can improve the disease.
  8. Extra taxes will enhance the price.

Answers to Collocation 4 of 16

Here are the answers to the previous collocation exercise. The first sentence has the wrong collocation; the second sentence has the correct one.


Some people commit severe crimes.

Some people commit serious crimes.


This makes a vicious circle.

This creates a vicious circle.

This is Chinese English. In English, we have many specific verbs for creating things. We create, make, cause, engender, encourage, stimulate, and so on. These verbs are used in different ways for different things. In Chinese, there are fewer verbs, used more flexibly. So, good collocation can be difficult here. No. 7 shows the same problem.


Fighting back will just stimulate the bullies.

Fighting back will just enrage the bullies.

Stimulate is a positive verb, for positive things.


Lying will lose the relationship.

Lying will destroy the relationship.


Smoking allows people to approve of themselves.

Smoking allows people to feel confident about themselves.


Army life can train their courage.

Army life can develop their courage.


Education is made by good teachers.

Education is created by good teachers.

As with No. 2.


People should step out for their rights.

People should stand up/fight for their rights.


If scientists owned more knowlege about space, they could …

If scientists had/acquired more knowlege about space, they could

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