Special | What Are Collocations TOC


In Special | What Are Collocations episode, you will learn everything you need to learn about collocations. What are collocations? Why do we need to learn them? And how best to learn collocations in English.

Podcast Episode


Disclaimer: I am using an automatic transcript service as it is not possible for me to do it on my own and I cannot afford human transcription at the moment. The service claims to have about 95% accuracy, which means there will still be some mistakes, so my apologies for having a less than perfect transcript, but I hope I can afford human transcription soon and this problem will be solved. However, the service is pretty good and the transcript will prove to be almost perfect.

Welcome to a new episode from English plus podcast. In today’s episode, we will talk about co-locations. Now I thought about adding a couple of episodes about colocations, but then it occurred to me that I talked before about co-locations and I mentioned specific uses for co-locations. But I never talked about colocations themselves.

[00:00:27] And why are they that important for your language learning? So today we will talk about what colocations are, and we will talk about how best to learn them and the different types of co-locations. So the whole point of today’s episode is to introduce you to what colocations are. And along the way, we will learn a couple that might be interesting to you.

[00:00:49] But the more important thing is I would like you to understand by the end of this episode, why it is very important to learn. Colocations whenever you have the chance. And after this episode, you will not be waiting for me to tell you about co-locations you will start to see seek them out. So without further ado, Let’s start and let’s talk about co-location.

[00:01:10] So we will start with a very obvious question. What is a colocation, many of you might’ve heard this word before, especially in your English learning journey, but not everybody knows or understand exactly what a colocation is. A colocation is a pair or group of words that are often used together. That is the basic definition of co-location so far.

[00:01:35] It might not be very interesting, but it will get interesting very soon. So stay with me now, these combinations sound natural to the native speakers, but students of English have to make a special effort to learn them because they are often difficult to guess. Some combinations, just sound wrong to native speakers of English.

[00:01:56] For example, the adjective fast co-located with cars, but not with a glance. We say, for example, fast cars. We don’t say quick cars. If you look up the meaning of fast and quick, you will find out that they are the same. It’s not even pretty much the same. They’re exactly the same fast and quick are synonyms are 100% the same meaning, but.

[00:02:18] They are not used with the same words. And this is the thing that differentiates a native speaker from a learner. A native speaker would know naturally that we say fast cars. And we don’t say quick cars simply because he or she has never heard of it before. They have always heard fast cars, not quick cars, but for us as learners, it’s different.

[00:02:43] We know the meaning of the word fast and we know the meaning of the word quick. And in our minds, it makes sense to say quick cars. Why can’t we say quick cars? Well, here is the power of colocations. Here’s why we need to learn colocations and we need to take notes of the words that go together. Another example we say fast food.

[00:03:03] We don’t say quick food. And the opposite. When we use glance or meal, we don’t say glance or fast meal, we say quick glance and a quick meal. So you see, even if you look at it, fast food and meal, we’re talking about food and meat, which are words. That pretty much mean the same thing, but we say fast food.

[00:03:24] We don’t say quick food. We say quick meal, but we don’t say fast meal. Why. Nobody knows. Actually these words are colocations. These words are words that are often used together. And as I said, these combinations sound natural to native speakers, and that’s why it is important to use them and to make your English sound more natural.

[00:03:48] Now learning colocations is an important part of learning the vocabulary of a language. Some colocations are fixed or very strong. For example, take a photo where no word, other than take co-located with photo to give the same meaning. Obviously some collocations are more open where several different words may be used to give similar meaning.

[00:04:07] For example, we can say keep to the rules or stick to the rules with the same meaning. Now, here are some more examples of co-location so that you understand the importance of colocations even more. You must make an effort and study for your exams. We don’t say, do an effort. There is no obvious reason.

[00:04:28] It’s not like grammar where we know the reasons behind a choice or another here. We don’t have a reason we just use, make with effort. We don’t use do another example. Did you watch TV last night? We don’t say, look at TV. We say watch TV. Look at and watch our synonyms, but we use watch with DV. We don’t say, look at TV.

[00:04:51] This car has a very powerful engine. It can do 200 kilometers an hour. Well, powerful engine makes sense. Right, but why don’t we say strong engine powerful and strong are synonyms. Well, actually we can’t powerful and engine are used together. They are a colocation, but strong does not co-locate with engine.

[00:05:12] They are not used together. Another example, there are some ancient monuments nearby, ancient, very old. What about antique? Antique is also very old and pretty much we’re talking about the same thing, right? But we don’t say antique monuments. It’s just wrong. We say ancient monuments. We don’t say antique monuments.

[00:05:34] You see why it is very important to know what co-locations are and to start learning them and start integrating this part of English in our everyday learning routine. And it is very easy to learn by the way, I will give you some examples on how best to learn colocations down the line in this episode.

[00:05:55] So don’t go away. Now saying that sometimes a pair of words may not be absolutely wrong and people will understand what is meant, but it may not be the natural normal co-locations. If someone says I did a few mistakes, they will be understood obviously, but a fluent speaker of English would probably say I made a few mistakes.

[00:06:19] So do not take it. That it is about the absolutely right or absolutely wrong approach. Because that is not the best way to learn English, take it about what’s good and what’s better. What’s okay. And what’s best. And that is what we’re trying to aim for here. We’re trying to aim for the best use of English, the best possible use of English.

[00:06:43] Of course, in some cases you may make mistakes. We all make mistakes, especially when you are not a native speaker, because you have to make decisions of what verb to use and what adjective to use and what etcetera to use. But don’t worry. The more you listen to English, the more natural your language will become.

[00:07:06] You will start using colocations without even knowing these are colocations, but for the phase of learning, it might be worthwhile to write down a couple of co-locations learn a little bit about them and at least, you know, just take them into consideration when you want to read new things or listen to new things and take some notes.

[00:07:28] That helps. Now we will move on to talk about co-locations as compounds and idioms. Now compounds are units of meaning formed with two or more words. Sometimes the words are written separately and sometimes they have a hyphen and sometimes they are written as one word. Usually the meaning of the compound can be guessed by knowing the meaning of the individual words.

[00:07:50] Some examples of compounds are car park, post office, narrow-minded shoelaces teapot. And with these examples, it’s very easy to guess the meaning of the compound, because if you understand the meaning of the two words, car and park, well, I understand what that is, right. It is a place where you can park your car.

[00:08:10] But unfortunately it is not always easy to separate co-locations and compounds. And here, when we come to talk about idioms, which is part co-location sometimes the same, like compound, because these are words that are used together. But idioms are groups of words in a fixed order that have a meaning cannot be guessed by knowing the meaning of the individual words.

[00:08:34] For example, pass the buck is an ADM meaning to pass responsibility for a problem to another person to avoid dealing with it yourself. Well, what does that mean? Pass the buck? Well, buckets, what are we talking about? A game or something? No, it is taken from a sports game, but it doesn’t mean that it means to pass responsibility.

[00:08:57] So having talked about colocations and how colocations can be EDM, which is. Sometimes very difficult to get the meaning of just from learning the meaning of the individual words. And now again, I know that I talked about this a couple of times earlier and I will talk about it again and again, because it is very important.

[00:09:18] Why should we learn. Colocations well, I’m going to give you three important reasons why learning co-locations is a good idea, because the first reason it gives you the most natural way to say something. For example, smoking is strictly forbidden. Is more natural than smoking is strong, really forbidden.

[00:09:39] Not saying that strongly forbidden is wrong, but you can use it. People will understand, but that’s not the most natural way. So the first reason is to make your English as natural as it gets. The second reason, it gives you alternative ways of saying something which may maybe more colorful, expressive, or more precise instead of repeating, it was very cold and very dark.

[00:10:04] We can say it was bitterly cold and pitch dark. Well, that’s a new way and an exciting way of saying the same thing. Instead of keep seeing the same thing all the time, it was very, very dark, very cold, very dark. This specially very. You know, when we use it, it’s not wrong to use. Obviously we can use it anytime we want, but if you overuse very, it shows that your vocabulary is not that strong.

[00:10:30] You don’t have enough words to use something else you always use. Very, and that makes a lot of difference in your writing. Maybe in speaking, it’s not a big deal, but in writing it is, if you keep writing very next to every adjective you have. Or if you overuse it, your writing will be very weak. So that is another reason.

[00:10:52] And that brings me to the third reason. And that is to improve your style in writing. Instead of saying poverty causes crime, you can say poverty breeds crime. Instead of saying a big meal, you can say a substantial meal. He may not need or want to use these in informative conversations, but in writing, they can give your text more variety and make it we’d better in the episodes I’m planning to include in the weeks to come.

[00:11:24] We will talk about specific uses of co-locations. But today, as I promised, we are just talking about why it is important. I’m actually selling idea of co-locations to you. And I hope I convince you at the end of this episode, that co-locations are very important to learn. Well, that brings us to the next step.

[00:11:45] How do we find colocations and how do we learn them? Well, there are two main ways in which you can find colocations. You can train yourself to notice them whenever you read or listen to anything in English. Now I’m going to read it very short text. And after I read the text point out the many co-locations that you can find in this very short text.

[00:12:08] So if you train yourself, you will start noticing them very soon. So after giving, Mark a lift to the airport, Julie made her way home. What an exciting the life he led at times, Julie felt desperately jealous of him. She spent time doing little more than taking care of him and the children. Now her sister was getting divorced and would doubtless be making demands on her too.

[00:12:35] Julie had promised to give her sister a call as soon as she got home, but she decided to run herself a bath. First. She had a sharp pain in her side and hope that a hot bath might ease the pain. That is a regular text that you may listen to or read any day. And you might come up with some words to learn some vocabulary words to learn, which is very important obviously, but here we will shift our focus to look for co-locations and there are just too many locations in this very short text that I just read to you.

[00:13:12] Let’s take a look at some of them. I said after giving, Mark a lift to the airport so we can give people lifts, give a lift. So we use these together. A colocation, Julie made her way home. You can make your way home or somewhere else. And that is another colocation. What an exciting life he led. So we can lead a life.

[00:13:35] So that is another co-location. Julie felt desperately jealous. We use desperately with jealous, and that might be a new thing for us, desperately jealous, and we have other colocations like divorced making demands, run a bath, sharp pain and ease the pain. So you see, I found a couple of co-locations here.

[00:13:57] Some of them might sound natural to you and you already know that this is the way of course we say, make your way. I’ve never used any other thing with it. I use it all the time. Fine. Don’t record that learn the ones you haven’t used before. And maybe in your mind, it’s a new thing, or it’s not natural in your mind, but it is natural for native English speakers.

[00:14:21] So this is one thing you need to tell yourself when you listen, or when you read things, is that I’m not going to look only for individual words. I’m going to look for colocations as well. Don’t overdo it just the same way that you do with vocabulary. If you read a text and you want to learn 50 new words from one text only, it’s going to be very boring.

[00:14:47] And after a while, you’re going to lose interest in learning in the first place. So just record a couple of new words, a couple of new co-locations and that’s it. Every time you learn a little bit more and that’s the way to make your English much better, faster than you think. Just one note about recording.

[00:15:07] Colocations. The best way to record a co-location is in a phrase or a sentence showing how it is used, because it might be a little bit difficult later to remember how to use it. Whose piece of advice, you know, might be better to say, Jim gave me a very useful piece of advice. All right. So now I remember piece of advice.

[00:15:27] I remember we say, give a piece of advice and I remember how it is used in a sentence, which is very useful. And learning colocations is not so different from learning any vocabulary item. The key things are to regularly revise what you want to learn and practice using what you want to learn in contexts that are meaningful for you personally, and learn colocations in groups to help you fix them in your memory.

[00:15:54] And that is what we will try to do in the weeks to come. We will learn co-locations in groups that make sense, the groups are based on topics. So state, June for the co-locations episodes, that will be coming your way in the weeks to come. But now, before we finish our episode about co-locations, I would like to tell you about the different types of co-locations and that will make it easier for you to know that yes, I have a co-location here and it might be worthwhile recording this new co-location in your vocabulary notebook, for example.

[00:16:29] And just before I talk about the different types, I just want to talk about using dictionaries. It is very important to use dictionaries. Yes. Most people now use dictionaries online or on your phones, and that’s not a problem. They use the dictionary you feel is more accessible to you, but use a good dictionary, please.

[00:16:50] Don’t use those dictionaries just to give you the meaning of the word in it. Short phrase and that’s it because it doesn’t give you the full potential and the power of the word. And obviously it doesn’t tell you anything about the co-locations, but a good learner’s dictionary will give you information on colocations.

[00:17:08] And sometimes the information is highlighted in some special way. In other cases, the examples used in the dictionary include the most common collocations. Now, there are many good dictionaries out there, but I will mention the ones that I’ve used over the years. And I do trust you have the Cambridge advanced learners dictionary.

[00:17:27] You have the Longman advanced learners dictionary. The Oxford you have Collins dictionary is very good. And Miriam Webster’s, these five are very good. They are a little bit different from each other, but even the electronic versions are perfect. And they’re. Completely free in most of them, you can just create an account and you can use them even without creating account.

[00:17:49] I guess you can use most of them without even signing up. But these dictionaries online and all of them have applications you can download on your phones. They are perfect for learning because you don’t just get the meaning. Of the word that happens to be the direct meaning and the shallowest, meaning of the word that you get from other dictionaries.

[00:18:08] I don’t want to mention the other dictionaries, but they happen to appear first in your Google search. So please use one of those dictionaries I mentioned because they will mean a lot and they will make a big difference to your English learning. Now we come to the final thing I want to talk about in this episode.

[00:18:25] I know it’s a little bit long, but it is important to tell you everything there is to know about co-locations. Before we start talking about co-locations in the episodes to come. Now, the types of co-locations that you might come across. Are adjectives and nouns. That’s the most obvious kind of co-location in colocations.

[00:18:45] We notice that some adjectives are typically used with particular nouns. For example, Emma always wears red or yellow or some other bright color, bright with color. We had a brief chat about the exams, but didn’t have time to discuss them properly. Brief chat brief is an adjective chat. As a. Now unemployment is a major problem for the government at the moment.

[00:19:08] Major problem adjective now improving the health service is another key issue for government key and issue keys and adjective issues. And now other types of colocations are nouns and verbs. For example, the economy boomed in the 1990s economy boomed the economy was very strong. Boomed, the company has grown and now employs 50 more people than last year company grow.

[00:19:37] The company has expanded and now has branches in most major cities company expand. The two companies merged in 2013 and now form one very large corporation companies merge. Nouns and verbs, the company launched the product in 2012, launch the product that means to introduce the product to the market, the price increase poses a problem for us poses.

[00:20:06] A problem is simply saying is a problem. The internet has grown  opportunities for our business. Create opportunity. You see nouns and verbs be natural. You might know all of this. You might know some of it. You might know all of it, but it is important to know that we need to know the exact verbs and it’s not just about be right to be better.

[00:20:30] We want them our English to sound better and more, more natural. That’s the goal. That’s where we want to go. We talked about. Co-locations that can be adjectives and nouns co-locations that can be nouns and verbs and they can be nouns and nouns. For example, as max read the lies about him, he felt a surge of anger.

[00:20:53] This might be a literary use, but a sudden angry feeling. We can say he felt a sudden angry feeling. It is good, obviously, but how about a surge of anger? It is stronger, more expressive. Surge is unknown. Anger is unknown. So it can be now is announced. The, every parent feels a sense of pride when their child does well, or when something.

[00:21:18] So we have here a sense. Of pride, sensing pride, nouns and nouns. These work together. These two words are a co-location. I felt a bang of nostalgia when I sold the old photos of the village, where I grew up a Pang of nostalgia. So these words work together, two nouns, but that’s not everything. We also have verbs and expressions with prepositions.

[00:21:44] For example, as Jack went on stage to receive his gold medal for the judo competition, you could see his parents swelling with pride, swelling, with pride. We have verbs and expressions with prepositions swelling. Well, is the verb with pride? Yeah. Miss the expression with preposition. And that simply means looking extremely proud.

[00:22:08] Or another example I was filled with horror. I read the newspaper report of the expenses, illusion filled. That’s the verb expression with preposition, with horror. It’s not always with, obviously you can use other prepositions. For example, when she spilled juice on her new school, the little girl burst into tears, you suddenly started crying, burst.

[00:22:33] That’s the word or into tears express with prepositions. That’s not all you still have more. We can have verbs and adverbs. For example, she pulled steadily on the rope and help him to safety. Now, Paul and steadily, we use steady Lee. That is the adverb, obviously with pool. And that means pull firmly and evenly, or he placed a beautiful vase gently on the window ledge.

[00:22:59] Or as some people say vase, but it doesn’t matter vase or vase, it’s your choice, but co-location here is place gently. Place the vase gently on the window ledge. I love you and want to marry you. Dylan whispered softly to Madison, whisper softly verb and adverb. She smiled broadly as she looked at them, photos of her new grandson, smile proudly.

[00:23:28] Don’t underestimate learning this stuff because learning these new combinations will make your English way better. And one final combination of co-locations. We have adverbs and adjectives, and this one is a little bit tricky because it does not make sense all the time. It makes sense to native speakers, but it doesn’t make sense to learners all the time.

[00:23:51] We have adverbs and adjectives simple. When we say they are happily married, we always say happily married. If they are happily married, obviously. But you have happily, which is the adverb. Married is the adjective. I am fully aware that there are serious problems. That means I know. Well, I am fully aware, fully adverb aware adjective.

[00:24:14] Harry was blissfully unaware that he was in danger. Harry had no idea at all. And we often use this by the way, to talk about something unpleasant blissfully unaware. The opposite of fully aware, obviously blissfully unaware blissfully is the adverb. Unaware is the adjective. So you see co-locations are very powerful and it is not just a fancy thing people talk about.

[00:24:41] Yeah. Co-locations no, it is a very practical way you can use to make your English much better than it has ever been. So that will be all about co-locations. I hope I convinced you that co-locations are important. And I hope I kind of encourage you to stay tuned in the weeks to come to listen to some of the special episodes we’re going to make about co-locations that will be offered today.

[00:25:06] I will have to remind you that you can find the transcript of this episode in the link. I will leave in the description and don’t forget to support us on Patreon because your support is the only way we can continue and grow. Maybe one day to realize our dream of having a fully fledged 24 seven radio station that spreads quality education to everybody around the world for free.

[00:25:30] If you’re interested, please support us and become our patron on Patreon or tell your friends about us and tell them that they can do that too. This is your host, Danny. Thank you very much for listening to another episode from English plus podcasts. I will see you next.