I began this pixnet blog by looking at collocation, and now, I think I might go back to it for a while. But let me begin by (re)introducing this concept.

To begin, let's look at the public version of the IELTS Band Descriptors. These 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.

Notice the word, 'collocation'. So, what does it mean? Collocation means putting together groups of words in accepted and stylish way. For example, in English, we don't usually say ...

  • big rain,
  • big damage,
  • big wind,

... as you do in Chinese. In English, it is much better to say ...

  • heavy rain,
  • serious damage,
  • strong wind.

Looking at verbs, we don't usually say ...

  • make heavy rain,
  • make serious damage,
  • make strong wind.

It does depend on the situation, but it would be better to say ...

  • create heavy rain,
  • inflict serious damage,
  • generate strong wind.

All the words must fit together well - they must 'mesh', just like the 'cogs' in the picture at the top of this post. By the way, I have already presented some very useful material on collocation on my website. Click Teacher Andrew's website: 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 often don’t make sense (for example, one student wrote: ‘concluding theories representing the solution can be portrayed in detail’). The collocation is strange, and the word choice weird.

Collocation is so important that this week (starting today, Sunday night), I'll give you collocation exercises every day (to Friday), making six in all. So, this, and the next five posts, will each present a list of sentences/phrases showing wrong collocation, for you to fix. Remember, this is not so easy - but it is the key to getting a higher IELTS Writing and Speaking score. Here's the first exercise.


Time to Practice

Can you ‘fix’ the following sentences by changing (or removing) the coloured word? There may be different ways to answer this.

  1. Radiation can cause vital illnesses.
  2. There are two primary reasons associated with this.
  3. I tend to argue that …
  4. The essential key to this problem is …
  5. Nuclear energy contains disadvantages.
  6. Nuclear energy inflicts problems.
  7. The use of nuclear energy offers drawbacks.
  8. There are valuable arguments to the contrary.


See the next post for the answers.




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