meeting, business, brainstorming

What is a collocation?

Why are they such a nuisance?

Ok, so first things first. A collocation is a pair or group of words often used together. They pose a true challenge to non-native speakers of English since it requires a big effort on their behalf to learn them. For native speakers, they simply sound right or not. The native English speaker intuitively makes the correct collocation, based on a lifetime’s experience of hearing and reading the words in set combinations.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple for those learning English because there are no collocation rules that can be learned. The non-native speaker has a more limited experience and may frequently collocate words in a way that sounds unnatural to the native speaker. Collocations are often present in ESL  lessons, in other words, people learn to give them a more natural way of speaking. 

We use collocations everywhere, and the business world is not an exception. So, if you want to do business, you might want to learn some of these favorites.

* annual turnover: for a company, the amount of business it conducts during a year, is usually measured through income or sales. Our annual turnover exceeded the board’s expectations.
* break off negotiations: to stop negotiations abruptly. They decided to break off negotiations once they realized the products were not what they expected.

* cease trading: to stop trading. Due to severe production problems, the company had to cease trading
* chair a meeting: to preside over as chairperson. John was called to chair the meeting that would change the company’s destiny

* close a deal: to formally conclude bargaining; to bring negotiating to an end by reaching an agreement. We negotiated the terms of the agreement, and this afternoon we will close the deal. 

* close a/the sale: to complete the sale of something; to seal a bargain in the sale of something. The salesman closed the sale and the customer drove off in a brand new car.

* dismiss an offer: to not accept an offer. After much consideration, the offer was dismissed. 

* launch a new product: to start or promote. They launched a new breakfast cereal.

* lay off staff: to put an end to someone’s employment at something. The automobile factory laid five hundred people off from work. The opposite is taking on staff.

* go bankrupt: having been legally declared financially insolvent. After months of struggling, the company finally went bankrupt.

* make a profit: to make a return on a business undertaking after all operating expenses have been met. The new marketing strategies were effective in helping the company make a profit. The opposite is to make a loss.

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