Yes, it's back to collocation, once again. Remember, the public version of the 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.


So, an IELTS 7 writer shows an ‘awareness of style and collocation’, which means (as I have said before), good collocation is the key to IELTS 7. But, what is collocation? It is the act of putting the right words together in ways that are natural and good. For example, in Chinese, you can say …

  • Big rain
  • Big wind
  • Big noise


But in English, we would say …

  • Heavy rain
  • Strong wind
  • Loud noise.


These second pairs of word ‘collocate’ together more naturally, and knowing this collocation takes time. The collocation could be …

  • Verb noun             (launch spacecraft)
  • Adjective Noun    (financial priorities)
  • Adverb verb         (ultimately establish)
  • Adverb adjective (seemingly innocuous)


There are many examples and exercises on my website, where this issue is explored at length (click Good Collocation to see that), but I’ll add a few new examples here (taken at random from recent students’ essays).


Change the word in italics to one which collocates more naturally.

  1.   There are many advertisements advocating the health risks of smoking.
  2.   Nicotine lets people become addicted.
  3.   Governments need to do more policies.
  4.   I trust advertisements can provide an answer.
  5.   Advertisements can brainwash people to give up smoking.
  6.   The media is a key role in this.
  7.   Society will pay more cost on this.
  8.   Smokers can catch more attention from their peers.


Check the next post for the answers.


    IELTS Advice


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