Collocations are words that go together constituting natural combinations. That is to say a combination of words a native speaker would consider ‘correct’ and sound English. A native speaker would accept a fast train but not a quick train; he would have a quick shower but not a ‘fast one’. Collocations are then important if we want our language to be more natural, richer, and quickly learned. So how can we learn these collocations, and are there specific types we have to consider, or they are all the same?
There are steps we have to take if we want to learn collocations effectively. First, we have to be aware of them and try to recognize them whenever we hear or see one of them. Memorizing them as single chunks or blocks would be better than trying to learn them as individual words; learn strong tea and not strong+tea for instance. Another way is to learn them by topics; try to make a list of collocations for weather, time, number, money etc., and keep revising and practicing your new collocations as soon as possible to internalize them and make them active in your brain. Furthermore, try to read as much as you can; reading is a technique that makes you acquire and not just learn collocations. Remember a good collocation dictionary is a prerequisite.
Part of our awareness of collocations resides in defining their types. These types are made from combinations of verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. We can distinguish between:
1- adverbs+adjective ( we entered a richly decorated room).
2-adjective+noun (the doctor ordered him to take regular exercise)
3-noun+ noun (the ceasefire agreement came into effect at 11 am).
4-noun+verb (the lion started to roar when it heard the dog barking).
5-verb+noun (the prisoner was hanged for committing murder).
6-verb+expression with a preposition (we had to return home because we had run out of money).
7-verb+adverb (I vaguely remember that it was growing dark when we left). It’s a long list but it’s meant to emphasize the notion of collocation.
Learning collocations can be tiring and long but it is a step towards mastering the language and being more like a native speaker. If you do not have a stomach for studying things then my advice for you is to read for pleasure and switch from learning to acquisition.
To download a relevant dictionary about collocations you can visit: