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Lexical studies: Collocation

Collocations are characteristic co-occurrence patterns of two (or more) lexical items. They Tend to occur with greater than random chance The meaning tends to be more than the sum of its parts

These are extremely hard to define by intuition: Pro: Corpora have been able to reveal connections previously unseen
Con: t may not be clear what the theoretical basis of collocations are

Pro ! Con: how do they fit into grammar"

Defining a collocation
#People disagree on collocations$

ntuition does not seem to be a completely reliable way to figure out what a collocation is %any collocations are overloo&ed: people notice unusual words ! structures' but not ordinary ones

(hat your collocations are depends on exactly how you calculate them

There is some notion that they are more than the sum of their parts

)o' how do we practically define a collocation"

Collocations & colligations

* colligation is a slightly different concept:

collocation of a node word with a particular class of words (e.g.' determiners)

Colligations often create #noise$ in a list of collocations

e.g.' this house because this is so common on its own' and determiners appear before nouns Thus' people sometimes use stop words to filter out non-collocations

What a collocation is

Collocations are expressions of two or more words that are in some sense conventionali+ed as a group

strong tea (cf. "" powerful tea) international best practice &ic& the buc&et mportance of the context: #,ou shall &now a word by a company it &eeps$ (-irth ./01)

There are lexical properties that more general syntactic properties do not capture

Kinds of Collocations
Collocations come in different guises: 2ight verbs: verbs convey very little meaning but must be the right one: ma&e a decision vs. 3ta&e a decision' ta&e a wal& vs. 3ma&e a wal& Phrasal verbs: main verb and particle combination' often translated as a single word: to tell off' to call up Proper nouns: slightly different than others' but each refers to a single idea (e.g.' 4roo&s 4rothers) Terminological expressions: technical terms that form a unit (e.g.' hydraulic oil filter)

Common collocations
A collocation is a common word combination. It is made up of two or more words that always go together in the same order. Examples are: burning desire and heavy smoker. There are several different kinds of collocations. There are a large number of collocations in English. It is not easy to learn all of them, but you should be familiar with the most important ones. In this lesson, you can find a list of common collocations made with the words make, do, have, take and break.

Verb Collocations ere are some examples of the verb collocations. Have a headache / a haircut / have a holiday / have a relationship / have a rest / have a problem / have a bath Break a window / break a leg / break the law / break a world record / break someones heart / break the rules / break a promise / break the ice / break a habit / break the news Take a break / take an exam / take a seat / take a taxi / take a look / take a chance / take notes / take a rest / take someones place Do good / do harm / do business / do a favour / do exercise / do ones hair / do ones duty Make a ourney / make an offer / make arrangements / make a suggestion / make a decision / make an effort / make an attempt / make an excuse / make a mistake / make a noise / make money / make a fortune / make love / make peace / make progress

!ollocations are common word combinations that sound "right# to native English speakers. Examples are: chain smoker and burning desire. There are numerous collocations in English. $ome collocations are made by putting an ad%ective and adverb together. $ome are made by putting two nouns together. !ollocations can also be made using several other methods. ere is a list of some common collocations.

Adverb + adjective
Utterly stupid &'(T fully stupid) : It was an utterly stupid thing to do. Richly decorated : *e walked into the richly decorated auditorium. Fully aware : I am fully aware of the implications of my action.

Adjective + noun
Burning desire : e has a burning desire to make it big in the showbi+. Indulgent other : $he is an indulgent mother.

!aiden voyage : The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage. "#cruciating pain : $he was suffering from excruciating pain.

Verb + noun
Co it urder $ Co it suicide : $he committed suicide by hanging herself.

!a%e bed : !an you make the bed after washing those plates, &ive a presentation' give a speech : $he will give a presentation about her work tomorrow.

Verb + e#pression with preposition

Run out o( : *e cancelled the trip because we had run out of money. Burst into tears : $he burst into tears when she heard the news.

Verb + adverb
Re e ber vividly $ Re e ber vaguely : I vaguely remember that she was working with my neighbor at that time.
have have a bath have a drink have a good time have a haircut have a holiday have a problem have a relationship have a rest have lunch have sympathy ta%e take a break take a chance take a look take a rest take a seat take a taxi take an exam take notes take someone-s place take someone-s temperature do do business do nothing do someone a favour do the cooking do the housework do the shopping do the washing up do your best do your hair do your homework brea% a%e make a difference make a mess make a mistake make a noise make an effort make furniture make money make progress make room make trouble catch

break a habit catch a ball break a leg catch a bus break a promise catch a chill break a record catch a cold break a window catch a thief break someone-s heart catch fire break the ice catch sight of break the law catch someone-s attention break the news to someone catch someone-s eye break the rules catch the flu

Collocations - prepositions
That accounts _____ his success. tudents !enefit _____ listenin" to ne#s $epo$ts on the $adio. %& dau"hte$ speciali'es _____ teachin" ph&sics. (is mothe$ accused him _____ eatin" the enti$e ca)e. Tom con"$atulated *isa _____ "ettin" he$ diploma. The !o& confessed _____ stealin" the apple. The office$ cha$"ed %$ mith _____ !lac)mail. +,m af$aid + confused &ou _____ someone else. + insist _____ -ete$,s stud&in" e.e$& da& fo$ t#o hou$s. /ohnson #as con.icted _____ a$med $o!!e$&. +,m conce$ned _____ &ou$ "$ades. 0nna decided _____ he$ "oals. (e de$i.ed the meanin" _____ the context of the sentence. (e doesn,t ca$e _____ pla&in" "olf. +,d li)e to discuss ou$ next confe$ence _____ the !oss. he committed he$self _____ findin" a ne# 1o!. +,.e decided _____ "et a ne# 1o!. + am _____ the ne# $e"ulation. The !o&s a$"ued _____ #hich !us to ta)e. usan associates chocolate _____ childhood. 2e depend _____ ou$ custome$s, su""estions. + !lame /anet _____ the !$o)en potte$&. -ete$ $eminded me _____ Tom. +,m af$aid he can,t distin"uish a 3$itish accent _____ an +$ish accent. %& closet is c$ammed _____ di$t& clothes4 The students p$otested _____ the in.asion.


ere are some .uestions to test your knowledge of collocations:

*hat is the difference between a high window and a tall window, /ook at the following pairs of phrases and in each case choose the most usual collocation: o strong tea 0 powerful tea o a strong car 0 a powerful car o a strong computer 0 a powerful computer o a strong drug 0a powerful drug 'ow look at the following words and phrases and decide if we do them or make them. 1or example, do we do a mess or make a mess, a mess a noise a %ob a mistake the housework a wish a test someone a your best favour damage a telephone call the beds a promise a speech your hair &i.e. comb it or make it tidy

the shopping

1inally some odds and ends. $ee if you know the correct collocations in answer to the following .uestions,

The opposite of strong tea is weak tea. *hat is the opposite of strong cigarettes, a strong wind, a strong smell, *hat is the usual way of describing someone who smokes a lot, o a big smoker o a strong smoker o a hard smoker o a heavy smoker o a furious smoker $omeone can be very tired, but not very awake or very asleep. *hat do we say instead, *hat is the opposite of sweet wine, *hich of the following are the usual collocations, o completely beautiful o incredibly beautiful o absolutely beautiful o extremely beautiful o totally beautiful o utterly beautiful o thoroughly beautiful The following collocations are incorrect. !an you sort them out, o to get in a building o to get on a car o to go in a ship


A high window is a window that is located a long way from the ground, whereas a tall window measures a long way from top to bottom.

*e talk of strong tea, a powerful car and a powerful computer. A drug can be both strong and powerful. These are the usual collocations with make or do: do the housework do a test do your best make a telephone call make or do the beds make a promise make a speech do your hair &i.e. comb it or make it tidy

make a mistake make a noise make a wish do someone do a %ob a favour do the shopping do damage make a mess

(dds and ends. ere are the usual collocations:

o o o o o o

mild cigarettes, a light wind, a faint smell a heavy smoker wide awake2 sound asleep or fast asleep dry wine to get in a car2 to get on a ship2 to go in a building incredibly beautiful2 extremely beautiful &and possibly: utterly beautiful)

A )uestion (ro

a site visitor *how to assess collocate strength+

34 $ince I wrote the above text, in 5667, matters have changed, and it is much more common to hear men described as beautiful, without any implication of feminity.8

Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions

,al% -panish: If you walk someone $panish, you physically force them to leave a place or discharge them. .esterday/s news: $omeone or something that is yesterday-s news is no longer interesting. 0ut the bra%es on: *hen you put the brakes on, you are blocking someone-s activities, or causing someone to stop doing something. At your (ingertips: *hen something is at your fingertips, it is readily available and accessible. 1n board: If someone is on board, they support or are working for or with a company, person, etc. -pit nails: If someone is spitting nails, they are speaking or behaving in an extremely angry way. -o(t shoe: $peaking to someone or a speech given in a gentle or conciliatory way. 2u p in (eet (irst: If you %ump in feet first, you approach a task or activity with little to no hesitation. *hen you %ump into a swimming pool, there-s no going back once your feet leave the ground9 you will enter the water. *hen you %ump in feet first with a new activity or task or re.uirement, you give it your best, knowing there is no going back.
All ears: *istenin" intentl&5 full& focused o$ a#aitin" an explanation. To bite off more than one can chew: To ta)e on mo$e $esponsi!ilit& than one can mana"e. Break a leg: 0 sa&in" f$om the theat$e that means 6"ood luc)6 Couch potato: 0 la'& pe$son.

Kick the bucket: 7uphemism fo$ d&in" o$ death. A piece of cake: 0 1o!8 tas) o$ othe$ that is pleasant 9 o$8 !& extension8 eas& o$ simple. ull someone!s leg: To tease o$ to 1o)e !& tellin" a lie. "ou can sa# that again: That is .e$& t$ue5 expression of wholehearted agreement Through thick and thin: +n !oth "ood and !ad times. A bitter pill: 0 situation o$ info$mation that is unpleasant !ut must !e accepted.

0roverbs and sayings

*hen in :ome, do as the :omans do ; A donde fueres, ha+ lo .ue vieres. onesty is the best policy ; /o me%or es ser franco. A constant guest is never welcome ; <isita cada d=a, a la semana hast=a. A friend in need is a friend indeed ; En las malas, se conocen a los amigos. Actions speak louder than words ; /as palabras se las lleva el viento. As soon as one goes out the window, another comes in the door ; a rey muerto, rey puesto. >ifferent strokes for different folks ; $obre colores, no hay nada escrito. Evildoers always think the worst of others ; !ada ladr?n %u+ga por su condici?n. If you can#t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen ; $i no te .uieres .uemar, no %ueges con fuego. $ix of one and half a do+en of the other ; >a igual. The early bird catches the worm ; @uien se levanta temprano, recoge agua clara.
,ou can5t teach an old dog new tric&s - loro vie6o no aprende a hablar. f you &eep your mouth shut' you won5t put your foot in it - en boca cerrada' no entran moscas. *s you sow' so shall you reap - lo 7ue siembres cosechar8s. 9o cows' no cares - 7uien no tiene' no teme 4etter safe than sorry - m8s vale prevenir 7ue curar. :on5t count your chic&ens before they5 hatch- no hay 7ue vender la piel del oso antes de ca+arlo. t5s no use crying over spilt mil& - a lo hecho pecho. (aste not' want not - 7uien no malgasta no pasa necesidades. (here there5s smo&e there5s fire ; cuando el r<o suena es por7ue piedras trae.

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