This is another review lesson on the words from list 2 of the academic word list. The focus this time is on collocations. The idea is that if you want to be able to use a word, you really need to know what the next word is too. We don’t use words by themselves, we use them together. So don’t learn individual words by themselves, focus on what other words they are used with – collocations. To help you on your way, I show your 4 ways learning collocations can improve your English, then give you a quick quiz on some collocations from list 2 of the AWL.
Some examples of collocations in action
Here are just four ways in which learning collocations can help improve your English:
1. new meanings and uses for old words
Construct may mean almost the same as build. The word is much more useful than that though. If you combine constructive with criticism, you get the collocation constructive criticism, where constructive means something like positive. This is efficient learning: you don’t need to learn new words all the times, you can learn as much by using words you already know more flexibly.
2. saying something more precisely
Another way collocations can help is that they help you add meaning to what you say. So “There is no doubt but that television commercials affect our buying habits.” is a good sentence, but knowing the collocation significantly affect allows you to add meaning so that you can now write: “There is no doubt but that television commercials significantly affect our buying habits.”
3. avoiding mistakes
One common problem in IELTS is that candidates use words wrongly. The word may mean what you think it means, it’s just that we don’t typically use it that way in English. So, for instance, you may try and write “home consumers are responsible for a large amount of waste”. Your meaning may be clear but the much better variation is “domestic consumers are responsible for a large amount of waste.”
4. learning grammar
Sometimes it is quite hard to see where vocabulary ends and grammar begins. One way of “learning” some more complex grammar is not to think about rules – which may be very complex – but rather to look at examples of correct English. An example of this in action is by learning patterns of usage such as adverb-adjective from the collocation potentially fatal.