The IELTS Band Descriptors (public version) state that for your Writing Vocabulary Mark …

Band 7: Uses less common words with some awareness of style and collocation.

Band 8: Skillfully uses words but there may be occasional inaccuracies in word choice and collocation.

The key point here is ‘collocation’, which is putting together groups of words in accepted and stylish way. We say ‘heavy rain’, not ‘big rain’. I have already presented some material on collocation on my website. Click Good Collocation to see that.

Students mostly do not collocate words very well (which is why they don’t receive IELTS 7 or 8). Bad IELTS material encourages students to memorise wordy phrases that no native writer would ever produce, and which don’t make sense (for example, one student wrote: ‘concluding theories representing the solution can be portrayed in detail’). This issue is so important, that this week (starting today, Monday), I'll give you collocation exercises every day (to Friday), making five in all. So, this, and the next four posts, will each present a list of sentences/phrases showing bad collocation, for you to fix. Remember, it is not so easy. Here's the first exercise.


Time to Practice

Can you ‘fix’ the following sentences by changing the verb? There may be different ways to answer this.

  1. Criminals commit many casualties.
  2. Japan obtained fewer foreign students.
  3. These events state that there are better ways.
  4. This might make the opposite effect.
  5. These reasons point out why it is bad.
  6. Many countries apply nuclear power.
  7. This could do harmful injuries.
  8. They can capture useful skills.


Answers to ‘Such as’ (4)

  1. People need to work more, such as on the weekend.
  2. Technology also creates stress, such as by complicating life.
  3. People can obtain Internet services everywhere, such as in coffee shops.
  4. Accidents are caused by unfamiliarity with guns, such as among young children.
  5. People will live in space, such as in the movie ‘Wall-E’.
  6. Teachers worry about relationships, such as among students in high school.
  7. People can use Internet services, such as in coffee shops.




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