Collocation: the other key to IELTS 7 (15 of 16)


Collocation is the key to getting a higher IELTS Writing and Speaking score, but it is not easy. Students often do not collocate words very well (which is why they don’t receive IELTS 7 or 8). To do this, all the parts of speech [adjectives & nouns, verbs & adverbs, prepositions & nouns, and others] must fit together in accepted patterns, stylishly and nice, while all the time conveying clear and precise meaning – like the video at the top of this page. Watch it, and notice all the parts of this complex creation blend together perfectly. This is what your writing should be like.


Well, to have ‘a sense of collocation’ (= IELTS 7), you need to have some familiarity with English. So, start reading all my pixnet posts, and getting this familiarity, right?


In the meantime, the following exercises will help.



Time to Practice

Can you ‘fix’ the following sentences by changing (or removing) the underlined word? There may be different ways to answer these. The answers will be in the next ‘collocation’ post.



They need guns for when they face dangerous conditions.



What is happening in Taiwan tells a different result.



I am sorry for wasting your worthy time.



By not seeing the product, customers undertake the risk of ....[~]ing...



I hope that you can challenge this cancer.



This can stimulate new ideas and creation.



This can enhance the profit the companies make.



Airline companies have launched significant discounts.




Answers to Collocation 14 of 16

Here are the answers to the previous collocation exercise. The first sentence has the wrong collocation; the second sentence has the correct one.



It becomes a big problem for those smoking addicts.

It becomes a big problem for those tobacco addicts.



They have no choice but to comply with the trend.

They have no choice but to follow the trend.


We ‘comply with’ the law, rules, and regulations.



When people quit smoking, they feel very uncomfortable.

When people quit smoking, they suffer [uncomfortable] withdrawal symptoms.


The original sentence was true, and acceptable. Withdrawal symptoms are indeed ‘uncomfortable’, but I’m sure you’d agree that ‘uncomfortable’ is a very inexact word. A quarter of your IELTS score is based on vocabulary, and an IELTS 7 has the ability to write with ‘some flexibility and precision’ (quoted from the public version of the IELTS Band Descriptors). The key word is ‘precision’. Be precise! ‘Uncomfortable’ is vague. ‘Withdrawal symptoms’ is totally precise (not just having ‘some’ of this quality = higher than IELTS 7). Got it!


If you want, you could add the word ‘uncomfortable’ into the sentence- it does add more meaning and clarity – although withdrawal symptoms, by definition, are always uncomfortable, so adding this word isn’t necessary.



In this information society, people are very busy.

In this information age, people are very busy.



Employess are asked to have more creative ideas.

Employees are asked to produce/generate more creative ideas.



Some of the products are under standard.

Some of the products are below standard.



It could be argued that people have the right to bear guns.

It could be argued that people have the right to bear arms.



These shootings have stimulated people to consider the dangers.

These shootings have forced/galvanised/prompted people to consider the dangers.


‘Stimulate’ is for postive things. Research, books, documentaries, museums, and stories can stimulate us. ‘Shootings’ are very negative, so we need a different verb.



By the way, you can learn more about me at . Remember, the next term of IELTS course, Term 3, begins next Monday, so get in quick.




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