Lessons in Speaking – Collocations

Every IELTS student has heard the word – COLLOCATIONS. What are these? What is the most effective way to use them? Well, this article will not only effectively answer this questions but also mention numerous combinations that you can use in the IELTS exam.


Did you notice the words – effectively answer, numerous combination?

Well, these are collocations. Collocation is made up of two parts – CO and LOCATION. That’s right. When two or more words come together (located at the same place), it is called a collocation. These words come together naturally in the English language. I regularly use collocations in my speaking articles. If you haven’t noticed, here are a few examples.

India is a diverse country both culturally and geographically. Consequently, it is extremely difficult to visit all tourist attractions and many interesting and exciting places remain unknown to the people. One such place is the Salt Lake in the Himalayas.

(A place unknown to tourists)

Note the combination of words – diverse (adjective) country (noun); extremely (adverb) difficult (adjective); interesting (adjective) and exciting (adjective) places (noun).

You will observe that collocations are a combination of a noun and an adjective OR an adverb and an adjective. The former word adds a quality to the latter word. What sort of country is India? Diverse. How difficult is it? Extremely. What is the character of places? Interesting and exciting.

Here is a well constructive sentence with important collocations from Project Syndicate.

Although the global economy has been undergoing a sustained period of healthy growth, it will inevitably lose steam as unsustainable policies in the US start to phase out.

Note the combination of words – global (adjective) economy (noun); sustained (adjective) period (noun); healthy (adjective) growth (noun); inevitably (adverb) lose (verb); unsustainable (adjective) policies (noun).

Here is another example from this website:

Geographically, India is a huge country. It has millions of species of plants, and many of them are used for several purposes ranging from religious to medicinal. Among these, a plant called Tulsi is considered sacred.

(A Useful Plant)

Note the combination of words – Geographically (adverb – gives quality of the phrase); several (adjective) purposes (noun); considered (adjective) sacred (adjective).

Here is a simple sentence with a single collocation:

We are having a crisis of confidence in the emerging markets.

Emerging (adjective) markets (noun)

Another sentence from an article by Bob Woodward:

The United States has decided to unilaterally impose punitive trade restrictions on China for unfair trade practices.

Unilaterally (adverb) impose (verb); Punitive (adjective) trade (noun) restrictions (noun); unfair (adjective) trade (noun) practices (noun).

If you wish to discuss any sentence with me for collocations, please type it in the comments box below and I will reply with a detailed analysis as soon as possible.

I’m sure now you have an idea of how exactly collocations work. It is time to implement this principle in your regular English usage and increase your band score. Good Luck!

Next Lesson: List of Collocations – 2.

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