Collocation Examples For English Learners

girl making the bed
make the bed -> I need to make the bed every day. Jamie Grill/Getty Images

A collocation is made up of two or more words that are commonly used together in English. Think of collocations as words that usually go together. There are different kinds of collocations in English. Strong collocations are word pairings that are expected to come together. Good collocation examples of this type of word pairing are combinations with 'make' and 'do'. You make a cup of tea, but you do your homework.

Collocations are very common in business settings when certain nouns are routinely combined with certain verbs or adjectives. For example, draw up a contract, set a price, conduct negotiations, etc.

Collocation Examples

Here are a number of common collocations in English:

make the bed -> I need to make the bed every day.
do the homework -> My son does his homework after dinner.
take a risk -> Some people don't take enough risks in life.
give someone advice -> The teacher gave us some advice on taking tests.

Here are some business collocations. These collocations are used for specific situations in business.

open an account -> Would you like to open an account at our bank?
forgive a debt -> Do you think the bank would forgive a debt?
land a deal -> We landed a deal worth $3 million.
receive a discount -> If you buy three computers you'll receive a discount.

Verb Collocations

Some of the most common collocations involve verb + noun collocations used in everyday situations.

Here are some examples of the types of verb collocations you will need to learn as you continue learning English.:

to feel free
to come prepared
to save time
to find a replacement
to make progress
to do the washing up

Please feel free to take a seat and enjoy the show.
Make sure to come prepared for the test tomorrow.
You'll save time if you turn off your smart phone and concentrate on the lesson.
We need to find a replacement for Jim as soon as possible. 
We're making progress on the project at work.
I'll do the washing up and you can put Johnny to bed. 

Business Collocations

Collocations are often used in business and work settings. There are a number of forms including adjectives, nouns and other verbs that combine with keywords to form business expressions.  Here are some of the collocation examples you will find on these pages:

to key in a PIN
to deposit a check
hard-earned money
to close a deal
write up a contract
counterfeit money

Just key in your PIN at the ATM and you can make a deposit.
I'd like to deposit this check for $100.
Once you get a job, you'll know what hard-earned money really is. 
I closed a deal on a new account last week.
Let's write up your contract.
Be on the lookout for counterfeit money in circulation. 

Here are two pages that provide a wide range of collocations include examples. 

Common Expressions

Collocations are often used as short expressions to describe how someone feels about a situation. In this case, collocations can be used in the adjective form, or also as emphatic expressions using an intensifier and a verb. Here are a few examples using some of common business collocations:

positively encourage someone to do something
deeply regret the loss of someone / something
to be in an utter fury over something
to go to great lengths to do something

We'd like to positively encourage you to buy this stock.
I deeply regret the loss of your loved one.
Tom's in an utter fury over the misunderstanding with his wife.
He went to a great length to explain the situation.

Learn more of these common expressions.

Get a Collocation Dictionary 

You can learn collocations from a number of resources. Academics and teachers like to use collocation databases to help study common collocation uses. However, for students one of the best tools is a collocation dictionary. A collocation dictionary is different from normal dictionaries in that it provides you with collocations commonly used with key words rather than a definition. Here is an example of a few of the collocations used with the verb 'progress':

Progress

Adverbs: nicely, satisfactory, smoothly, well  - You are progressing smoothly in this course.| further - As you further progress, you will learn more. 

Verb + Progress: fail to - He's failing to progress at work.

Prepositions: beyond - She failed to progress beyond high school. | from, through - Students should progress from this class with an improved knowledge of the subject. 

I highly recommend using the Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English published by Oxford University Press to begin using collocations as a means of improving your vocabulary skills in English.