Let’s do Collocation Again, Okay? (5 of 12)

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Let’s do Collocation Again, Okay? (5 of 12)

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 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 this. The answers will be in the next ‘collocation’ post.


There is a big amount of buildings in cities.


The right to life should not be despoiled by any person or government.


The results of the police investigation can be not true.


Thus, we can believe some of these people were innocent.


The level of punishment which criminals should receive ….


Smokers will encounter many health problems.


The smell of smoke is easily discovered.


We cannot stand just one nuclear explosion.

Answers to Collocation 4 of 12


If we can find energy in space, the advantages are unimaginable.

… hugely beneficial discoveries, such as finding a source of energy in space.

‘Unimaginable’ is used for negative things. The student has written about positive results. So, the effects of a nuclear war, or a sudden increase in global temperature are unimaginable. By the way, a good collocation here is ‘almost’+ ‘unimaginable’.

The statement is also ‘of the obvious’. Tip 15 of my book (last page) says, ‘some things are just too obvious to need saying’. This is one of those cases, so the sentence needs to be re-written.


We spend more budget on the arms race than on space.We spend more money on the arms race than on space.

A good rule is to never ever use the word ‘budget’. I have never ever seen this used correctly – ever.

We don’t spend/use/waste/need/lose budget.

We spend/use/waste/need/lose money!

It doesn’t cost/need/waste/require/take too much budget!

It costs/needs/wastes/requires/takes too much money!

How do you use ‘budget’ correctly? As I said, it is better not to try.


Exploring space costs a vast amount of money.

Exploring space costs an enormous amount of money.

‘Vast’ is just too big. There are a vast number of stars in the sky; vast amount of water in the ocean, vasts numbers of insects in the world. Vast is for truly large numbers/amounts.


According to the surveillance video, my passport was taken.

As shown/revealed/proven by the surveillance video, my passport was taken.

‘According to’ is not used for hard facts. You would not say, ‘According to mathematicians, 1 + 1 = 2’. ‘According to’ is used to refer to a source or an authority from where you have got some information (which could be wrong – you never know, do you?).

According to doctors, you should wash your hands before every meal.

According to Bob, Lisa is pregnant.

According to the latest scientific reports, it’s now too late to stop global warming.

According to the latest gossip, …… .[ ..etc..]


Guns are a risk when falling into the wrong use.

Guns are a risk when falling into the wrong hands.

This is a very clear collocation. We always say ‘wrong hands’ here.


The government needs to educate people the correct way.

The government needs to teach people the correct way.

We just educate people. [Stop] But we can teach them something. Right now I’m teaching you how to better collocate words, right?


Raising the tax is the straightest way to solve this problem.

Raising the tax is the most direct way to solve this problem.


People want to flee from the pressure in life.

People want to escape from the pressure in life.

By the way, you can learn more about me at   www.aisielts.com .