English Forward, Grammar, Vocabulary

7 Main Types of Collocations

Simply put, collocations are words that usually go together in English. Sometimes, a phrase can be grammatically correct, but...

Emi Ilievska Written by Emi Ilievska · 1 min read >
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Simply put, collocations are words that usually go together in English. Sometimes, a phrase can be grammatically correct, but won’t sound right to a native speaker. For example, although ’big rain’ is easy to understand and follows proper grammar, these two words are not compatible in English. The correct ways would be ’heavy rain’, ’rain cats and dogs’, ’pouring rain’ etc.

Collocations are sometimes strong (whisk an egg) and sometimes weak (straight hair, straight line), meaning that the verb ’whisk’ can be combined only with ’egg’, while the word ’straight’ can be used with many nouns.

Let’s take a look at seven main categories of collocations with examples.


#1 adverb+adjective 

The test was ridiculously easy.

She sometimes buys fast food when she is out.

I’m completely sure it will turn out right in the end.


#2 adjective+noun 

I need strong coffee to start my day.

They have a very close relationship

It’s only a rough estimate.


#3 noun+noun

Let’s play some board games tonight!

What are your office hours?

He’s always been into action movies.


#4 noun+verb 

Cats purr when they are satisfied.

My alarm goes off at 7 am.

The snow was falling the whole day.


#5 verb+noun 

Blow the candle and make a wish!

He usually takes a nap when he returns from work.

Have you done your homework?


#6 verb+expression with a preposition

We’re running out of our time, so let’s wrap it up.

She swelled with pride when she heard her daughter praised.

That company has gone out of business.


#7 verb+adverb

I’ve seen that movie, but I vaguely remember it now.

Can you speak more loudly, please?

They welcomed us warmly when we arrived, which put us at ease.


Here are some more examples of common English collocations:

-make the bed

-sincerely appreciate

-whisper softly

-take a chance

-keep a promise

-crystal clear

-dress code

-save money

-curly hair

It’s important to notice collocations every time we read something in English. Using a good dictionary such as: https://www.freecollocation.com/ will also be helpful.  A good technique is to always try to memorize the whole phrases, not separate words. After all, that is how our brain works. It is far easier for it to remember phrases than individual words. Being aware of collocations and learning them is an excellent start to having a more natural and richer way of expressing ourselves. For our goal to become native-like speakers that is certainly very important.

Written by Emi Ilievska
Emi is the Communications and Community Manager at English Forward. She has a Bachelors degree in e-Business and has been working in the eLearning industry for three years. She has previously managed social media for various brands from diverse industries, including health, technology, coaching, and education. Profile