When learning vocabulary, it's important to know which words go together and which ones don't. Common combinations of words are called collocations and that's what this post is about.
Let's start with a short quiz!
1. Which of these is good English?
a) Please could you make a photo?
b) Please could you take a photo?
c) Please could you do a photo?
2. Which of these is good English?
a) Let's have a party!
b) Let's make a party!
c) Let's do a party!
3. Which of these is NOT good English?
a) You need to take a decision.
b) You need to make a decision.
c) You need to do a decision.
4. Which of these is good English?
a) I had a good time at the party.
b) I spent a good time at the party.
c) I passed a good time at the party.
5. Which of these is NOT typical English?
a) I'm taking my exam tomorrow.
b) I'm passing my exam tomorrow.
c) I'm doing my exam tomorrow.
6. Which of these is good English?
a) They got married and made two children.
b) They got married and got two children.
c) They got married and had two children.
1 b We say "take a photo" in English.
When I go on holiday, I usually take lots of photos.
2 a We say "have a party" in English.
I'm having a party on Friday. Would you like to come?
3 c "Do a decision" is NOT good English. You can say "make a decision" or "take a decision".
We made / took the decision to close the school and move the lessons online.
I usually say "make a decision" but I hear "take a decision" quite often too.)
4 a You can "spend time" and "pass the time" but we say "have a good time".
How was your holiday? Did you have a good time?
5 b It isn't always wrong to say "pass an exam" but it is in this sentence. "Pass" means to get a good result, usually more than 60% in the UK, and this isn't really something you can plan! (I used the present continuous to describe a future plan.) It's better to say "take an exam" or "do an exam".
I'm taking my exam tomorrow. I hope I'll pass!
6 c We say "have children" in English, meaning "gave birth to".
Would you like to have children one day?
Learning about collocations is an important part of learning vocabulary. It's useful to learn the words together as a phrase and not just learn single words.
If you want to check if a collocation is correct, you might be able to find out in a normal dictionary but there are some collocation dictionaries online too. Here are three for you to try:
Online Oxford Collocation Dictionary
If you would like to know how to improve your English vocabulary and how to remember new words, this e-book will help you:
About the blog