Collocations In English

Collocations are conventional word combinations that sound natural to native English speakers. For example, we say a golden opportunity, but not a golden chance. Similarly, we say ‘thanks a lot’, but not ‘thank you a lot’.

More examples are given below:

  • A burning desire (BUT NOT a blazing row)
  • A blazing row (BUT NOT a burning row)
  • A heavy smoker (BUT NOT an indulgent smoker)
  • Change one’s mind (BUT NOT Change one’s thoughts)
  • Slightly annoyed (BUT NOT slightly interesting)
  • A devoted friend
  • An indulgent mother
  • A crashing bore

Collocations are idiomatic in a way. It is easy to understand the meaning of collocations, but a foreign learner may find it difficult to produce them correctly.

A learner who uses wrong word combinations for an idea may still be understood, but he or she will not sound natural.

All languages have large numbers of collocations. Some English examples are given below:

  • have breakfast / have lunch / have supper
  • have dinner / have tea / have coffee / have a drink
  • have a meal / have a bath / have a wash / have a shave
  • have a shower / have a rest / have a sleep / have a dream
  • have a good time / have a bad day / have a nice evening
  • have a day off / have a holiday / have a good journey
  • have a good flight / have a good trip / have a talk
  • have a word with somebody / have a chat
  • have a conversation / have a row / have a quarrel
  • have a fight / have a swim / have a walk
  • have a ride / have a dance / have a game of tennis / chess / badminton etc.
  • have a try / have a go / have a look


Americans usually say:

take a bath / shower / rest / swim / walk etc.

get washed / get dressed / get lost / get drowned

get engaged / get married / get divorced

go / come for a swim

go / come for a walk

go / come for a run

go / come for a ride

go / come for a drive

go / come for a sail

go / come for a drink

go for a bath

go for a shower

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

break a leg / break a promise / break a record

break a window / break someone’s heart / break the ice

break the law / break the news to someone

break the rules

catch a ball / catch a bus / catch a chill

catch a cold / catch a thief / catch fire

catch sight of / catch someone’s attention

catch someone’s eye / catch the flu

keep a promise / keep a secret / keep an appointment

keep calm / keep control / keep in touch

keep quiet / keep someone’s place / keep the change

fall ill / fall asleep / fall in love

come true / come right

go astray / go bad / go bald / go bankrupt

go blind / go crazy / go dark / go deaf / go fishing

go mad/ go missing / go on foot / go online

go out of business / go overseas / go quiet

go sailing / go to war / go yellow

go climbing / dancing / fishing / hunting / riding / sailing

go shooting / shopping / swimming / walking


Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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