Collocations for IELTS Writing and Speaking

The correct use of collocations is an essential part of improving your English level and boosting your IELTS score. Using collocations correctly allows you to write and speak more like a native speaker

The correct use of collocations is an essential part of improving your English level and boosting your IELTS score. Using collocations correctly allows you to write and speak more like a native speaker and they are also one of the things that examiners look out for when marking your tests.

Learning new words as part of a collocation is a much more effective way of improving our vocabulary than simply learning single words by themselves.

What is collocation
why to learn collocations
How to learn collocations
Types of Collocation
Examples of Collocations
Words with have, do , make, take, get, give , provide, keep & more
English Collocations With The Word BIG
English Collocations With The Word GREAT
English Collocations With The Word Large
English Collocations With The Word Strong
English Collocations With The Word deep
English Collocations With The Word heavy
English Collocations With The Word go
English Collocations With The Word Take
Verb and Preposition Combinations


What is a collocation?

A collocation is two or more words that often go together. These combinations just sound “right” to native English speakers, who use them all the time. On the other hand, other combinations may be unnatural and just sound “wrong”. Look at these examples:

natural English…unnatural English…
the fast train
fast food
the quick train
quick food
a quick shower
a quick meal
fast shower
fast meal
Why learn collocations?
  • Your language will be more natural and more easily understood.
  • You will have alternative and richer ways of expressing yourself.
  • It is easier for our brains to remember and use language in chunks or blocks rather than as single words.

Collocations are two or more words that naturally go together. They sound ‘correct’ to a native speaker. Using other combinations that do not form natural collocations might sound ‘incorrect’.


We could describe a night out as ‘great fun’, but we would not describe it as ‘big fun’. Similarly, we could describe the rain as being ‘heavy’, but we would not say that it is ‘weighty’ or ‘big’ rain.

There are many different types of collocations that you should be aware of. Below are the main ones and some examples.

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How to learn collocations
  • Be aware of collocations, and try to recognize them when you see or hear them.
  • Treat collocations as single blocks of language. Think of them as individual blocks or chunks, and learn strongly support, not strongly + support.
  • When you learn a new word, write down other words that collocate with it (remember rightlyremember distinctlyremember vaguelyremember vividly).
  • Read as much as possible. Reading is an excellent way to learn vocabulary and collocations in context and naturally.
  • Revise what you learn regularly. Practise using new collocations in context as soon as possible after learning them.
  • Learn collocations in groups that work for you. You could learn them by topic (time, number, weather, money, family) or by a particular word(take actiontake a chancetake an exam).
  • You can find information on collocations in any good learner’s dictionary. And you can also find specialized dictionaries of collocations.

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Types of collocation

There are several different types of collocation made from combinations of verb, noun, adjective etc. Some of the most common types are:

  • adverb + adjective: completely satisfied (NOT downright satisfied)
  • adjective + noun: excruciating pain (NOT excruciating joy)
  • noun + noun: a surge of anger (NOT a rush of anger)
  • noun + verb: lions roar (NOT lions shout)
  • verb + noun: commit suicide (NOT undertake suicide)
  • verb + expression with preposition: burst into tears (NOT blow up intears)
  • verb + adverb: wave frantically (NOT wave feverishly)

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Some Examples of Collocations

There are several different types of collocation. Collocations can be adjective + adverb, noun + noun, verb + noun and so on. Below you can see seven main types of collocation in sample sentences.

1. adverb + adjective

  • Invading that country was an utterly stupid thing to do.
  • We entered a richly decorated room.
  • Are you fully aware of the implications of your action?

2. adjective + noun

  • The doctor ordered him to take regular exercise.
  • The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage.
  • He was writhing on the ground in excruciating pain.

3. noun + noun

  • Let’s give Mr Jones a round of applause.
  • The ceasefire agreement came into effect at 11am.
  • I’d like to buy two bars of soap please.

4. noun + verb

  • The lion started to roar when it heard the dog barking.
  • Snow was falling as our plane took off.
  • The bomb went off when he started the car engine.

5. verb + noun

  • The prisoner was hanged for committing murder.
  • I always try to do my homework in the morning, after making my bed.
  • He has been asked to give a presentation about his work.

6. verb + expression with preposition

  • We had to return home because we had run out of money.
  • At first her eyes filled with horror, and then she burst into tears.
  • Their behaviour was enough to drive anybody to crime.

7. verb + adverb

  • She placed her keys gently on the table and sat down.
  • Mary whispered softly in John’s ear.
  • vaguely remember that it was growing dark when we left.

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Words with Have, Do ,Make, take , Get and More
An accidentThe housework / choresA cake
A showerYour homeworkA cup of coffee
A drinkSomethingSomeone happy / smile / sad
A haircutnothingAn arrangements
A relationshipanythingPeace
Lunch / Breakfast / dinnerThe dishesA decision
A problemThe laundryA choice
A holidayA favorA comment
An obligationThe shoppingA speech
An objectionSomeone’s bestA suggestion
An accessThe washing upA plan
PotentialBusinessA bet
TendencyA jobA call
An argumentDamageA date
A hard / good timeHarmA fortune
 ResearchA friend
  A joke
  A mistake
  A mess
  A noise
  A Pizza
  A prediction
  A promise
  A reservation
  A sandwich
  A statement
  An appointment
  An attempt
  An effort
  An error
  An Exception
  An Excuse
A showerA jobSomeone’s bed
Care Involved 
A ClassDivorced 
A roleGet in 
InitiativeGet out 
A breakGet Back 
The leadGet in front 
A chanceA shock 
Charge Angry 
A lookFrightened 
An examHome 
A napLost 
A claimMarried 
A restPermission 
A classPregnant 
A seatReady 
An opportunityThe impression 
NotesThe message 
A pictureThe sack 
A taxiWet 
An exampleAccessA diary
AccessAssistanceA promise
ConsentCareA secret
EmphasisCoverageAn appointment
GuidanceInformationThe change
InformationMaterialA record
InsightResourcesIn mind
A presentationSupportAn eye on someone
An explanationA clue 
An indicationService 
An overviewAn alternative 
Someone an impression  
CloseAttentionThe law
Early / lateRespectA leg 
Into viewA fineA promise
To a decisionCash / by credit cardA record
To an endSomebody a visitSomeone’s heart
 The billThe rules
  The bank
  A journey
Catch the bus / trainBankruptMoney
A coldAbroadTime
Someone’s attentionBlindSpace
The flueCrazySomeone a seat
You breathFishing / Camping / sailing / hikingYour strength
A glimpseMadSomeone’s life
Red-handedOnline / offline 
Disease / illnessOverseas 
Some raysOn foot 

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English Collocations With The Word BIG

The word big is often used in collocations with a happening or event, for example:

  1. a big accomplishment
  2. a big decision
  3. a big disappointment
  4. a big failure
  5. a big improvement
  6. a big mistake
  7. a big surprise

(Big is also used when talking about size – click here to learn the difference between big, large, tall, and long in English.)

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English Collocations With The Word GREAT

The word great is often used in collocations with feelings or qualities.

  1. Great + feelings
  2. great admiration
  3. great anger
  4. great enjoyment
  5. great excitement
  6. great fun
  7. great happiness
  8. great joy
  9. Great + qualities
  10. in great detail
  11. great power
  12. great pride
  13. great sensitivity
  14. great skill
  15. great strength
  16. great understanding
  17. great wisdom
  18. great wealth

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English Collocations With The Word LARGE

The word large is often used in collocations involving numbers and measurements.

  1. a large amount
  2. a large collection
  3. a large number (of)
  4. a large population
  5. a large proportion
  6. a large quantity
  7. a large scale
English Collocations With The Word STRONG

The word strong is often used in collocations with facts and opinions:

  1. Strong + facts/opinions
  2. strong argument
  3. strong emphasis
  4. strong evidence
  5. a strong contrast
  6. a strong commitment
  7. strong criticism
  8. strong denial
  9. a strong feeling
  10. a strong opinion (about something)
  11. strong resistance
  12. Strong + senses
  13. a strong smell
  14. a strong taste

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English Collocations With The Word DEEP

The word deep is used for some strong feelings:

  1. deep depression
  2. deep devotion

It is also used in these expressions:

  1. in deep thought
  2. in deep trouble
  3. in a deep sleep (when the person won’t wake up easily)
English Collocations With The Word HEAVY

Heavy is used for some weather conditions…

  1. heavy rain
  2. heavy snow
  3. heavy fog

The word heavy is also used for people with bad habits:

  1. a heavy drinker
  2. a heavy smoker
  3. a heavy drug user

There’s also the expression “a heavy sleeper” – that’s not someone who sleeps a lot; instead, it’s a person who doesn’t wake up easily when sleeping.

The word heavy is also used in collocations with two unpleasant things: TRAFFIC and TAXES!

  1. heavy traffic
  2. heavy taxes

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Collocations with Go with Examples
Collocations with go
Collocations with go

1. Go abroad

E.g. I think we should go abroad on holiday this year.

2. Go astray

E.g. John will go astray if he becomes friends with Bad Jack.

3. Go bad

E.g. The milk will go bad if it is not kept in the fridge.

4. Go bald

E.g. Many men go bald at an early age.

5. Go bankrupt

E.g. The company is about to go bankrupt.

6. Go blind

E.g. The old cat is starting to go blind.

7. Go crazy

E.g. The old man is going to go crazy.

8. Go deaf

E.g. Many old people go deaf.

9. Go fishing

E.g. I would like to go fishing this weekend.

10. Go insane (idiom)

E.g. If you don’t stop making that noise, I’m going to go (completely) insane!

11. Go mad/angry

E.g. My parents will go mad if they catch me smoking.

12. Go missing

E.g. Cats often go missing in the city.

13. Go on a date

E.g. He called me and we’re going on a date next Saturday night.

14. Go on a picnic

E.g. We could go on a picnic today.

15. Go on foot

E.g. I don’t have a car, so I will go on foot.

16. Go online

E.g. Go online and learn about writing correct English.

17. Out of business

E.g. The farmer is going out of business.

18. Go out of fashion

E.g. Blue jeans never seem to go out of fashion.

19. Go overseas

E.g. I often go overseas on business trips.

20. Go quiet

E.g. When the solar eclipse takes place, everything will go quiet.

21. Go sailing

E.g. I like to go sailing at the weekend.

22. Go smoothly

E.g. Elections don’t always go smoothly in developing countries.

23. Go to the beach/to the movie

E.g. I want to go to the beach with my friends at weekend.

24. Go to war

E.g. I hope we don’t go to war.

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Common Collocations with TAKE
Collocations with take
Collocations with take

Here is the list of useful collocations with TAKE in English with example sentences.

Take (sb) To court

E.g. They wouldn’t honour their contract, so we took them to court.

Take (sb’s) Temperature

E.g. After my temperature was taken, my blood pressure was checked.

Take a bite

E.g. Do you want to take a bite into this Apple?

Take a bow

E.g. During the show, I could barely take a bow.

Take a break

E.g. Let’s take a short break.

Take a call

E.g. I’m sorry, but I have to take this call.

Take a chance

E.g. Take a chance at it. You might win.

Take a class

E.g. I have to take a class on Saturdays this semester.

Take a decision (make)

E.g. You have to take lots of decisions in life.

Take a holiday

E.g. I’m going to take a holiday  in June. I’m going to Spain.

Take a lesson

E.g. I’m talking English lessons to help me prepare for the IELTS

Take a look

E.g. I’ll take a look at the website and let you know what I think.

Take a message

E.g. Debra’s not here just now. Can I take a message?

Take a nap

E.g. The baby takes a nap every day at 2 pm.

Take a number

E.g. I think it will take a number of months for this to play out.

Take a photo/ a photograph

E.g. Why did you take so many photos on holiday?

Take a picture

E.g. Could I take a picture of you?

Take a rest

E.g. After work, I like to take a rest before cooking dinner.

Take a risk

E.g. Mountaineers take many risks when they climb high mountains.

Take a seat

E.g. I walked into her office and she told me to take a seat.

Take a shower (have)

E.g. We’ll be leaving in five minutes. I’ll just take a shower first.

Take a step (1)

E.g. If you take another step, I’ll shoot you.

Take a step (2)

E.g. You’ve taken an important step on the road to recovery.

Take a taxi/bus/train/plane

E.g. Richard takes a taxi to work every day.

Take A test

E.g. Have you taken your driving test yet?

Take a while/ a minute/ five minutes

E.g. Take a minute to read the question before answering it.

Take action

E.g. If we don’t take action soon, it’ll be too late.

Take advantage (of)

E.g. We take advantage of that.

Take advice

E.g. I took my doctor’s advice and stopped drinking alcohol.

Take ages

E.g. Finding a parking spot in the city takes ages.

Take an exam/ a test/ a course

E.g. I’m going to take a Maths exam next week.

Take an opportunity

E.g. It was a very difficult decision, leaving Leicester, but I had to take an opportunity that doesn’t come round often.

Take care

E.g. Take care, won’t you? It can be dangerous around here at night.

Take care of

E.g. Who’s taking care of your pets while you’re away?

Take charge

E.g. Who’ll take charge if the mayor is sent to prison?

Take charge (of)

E.g. He decided to take charge of the whole meal.

Take drugs

E.g. Lots of young people were taking drugs like marijuana in the sixties.

Take exercise

E.g. My doctor says I should take more exercise.

Take hostage

E.g. Several foreign workers were taken hostage by rebel fighters.

Take medicine

E.g. Has grandpa taken his medicine yet?

Take notes

E.g. If I don’t take notes, I forget too many important details.

Take notice

E.g. Don’t take any notice of what he says. It’s all nonsense.

Take part

E.g. During the debate, those taking part will be sitting on the stage.

Take place

E.g. Where did the meeting take place?

Take pride in

E.g. You should take pride in the fact that your English is improving.

Take prisoner

E.g. After the battle was over, we took hundreds of enemy soldiers prisoner.

Take sb’s place

E.g. If a player’s injured, another player takes his place in the team.

Take someone’s temperature

E.g. I took my temperature and I found that Iam running a fever.

Take time

E.g. Changing the way people think takes time, so you have to be patient.

Take time of (away form work for holidays or to do sth)

E.g. I’m exhausted. I think I’ll take some time off and spend a few days with my sister in the countryside.

Take turns

E.g. If we take turns driving, we can travel all night.

Take up space

E.g. Most of the space on my hard disk is taken up by movie files.

Take your time

E.g. There’s no time limit, so you can take your time

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Verb and Preposition Combinations

1. Verb + To

  • Talk to

Example: Are you talking to me?

  • Listen to

Example: Little girls like to listen to lullabies at bed time.

  • Speak to

Example: You should speak to the boys about their behaviors

  • Apologize to

Example: Go and apologize your sister for what you said!

  • Belong to

Example: This book belongs to me.

  • Happen to

Example: What happen to you at the party?

  • Turn to

Example: A student who needs money turns to his parents.

  • Used to

Example: She used to be lonely until she found Mr.Right.

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2. Verb+For

  • Wait for

Example: hey, slow down & wait for her!

  • Look for

Example: Are you looking for this book?

  • Ask for

Example: If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.

  • Apply for

Example: I am going to apply for a new job today.

  • Blame for

Example: Why do you always blame me for everything?

  • Care for

Example: the mother is caring for her sick child.

  • Long for

Example: He longs for the days when he used to have a job.

  • Head for

Example: When shopping, he heads straight for the beer shelf.

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3. Verb + At

  • Smile at

Example: When she smiles at me, I become dizzy.

  • Stare at

Example:  Don’t stare at me like that!

  • Aim at

Example: Aim at the target if you want to hit it.

  • Look at

Example: Look at me! I’m talking to you!

  • Point at

It is rude to point at people

  • Laugh at

Why do you laugh at me?

4. Verb + From

  • Recover from

He luckily recovers from a terrible accidence.

  • Borrow from

If you want to run your own business, you could borrow money from the bank.

  • Escape from

Luckily, I escape from a thief.

  • Graduate from

I’ve just graduated from university this year.

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Common Words We Use with MAKE
Collocations with make
Collocations with make

1) Produce sound

  • Make a noise/ a sound

E.g. That you frequently make noise in class will affect the other students.

  • Make a speech

E.g. The company president made a speech about ethics in the workplace.

  • Make a joke

E.g. Harold always make jokes, but no one finds them funny.

  • Make a phone call

E.g.  Kate had to make a phone call during her break.

  • Make a comment/ remark

E.g. The teacher made a few critical comments on my essay.

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2) Produce things

  • Make money / a profit / a fortune

E.g. Big companies employ smart people to ensure they pay very little tax on the huge profits they make.

  • Make art (music/ paintings / sculptures)

E.g.  He makes music from his basement.

  • Make a mess

E.g. She didn’t like to make a mess.

  • Make love

E.g. Most people feel a bit nervous before making love for the first time.

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3) Produce reactions

  • Make your eyes water

E.g. The covers will make your eyes water!

  • Make you happy / sad / smile

E.g. He always make you happy so you will miss him a lot.

  • Make you sleepy

E.g. Listen, this song will make you sleepy.

4) Mental / intangible activity

  • Make a plan

E.g. We’re making plans to travel to Australia next year.

  • Make a decision / your mind up / a choice

E.g. Have you made a decision yet?

  • Make an arrangement / deal / compromise

E.g. I’m sure we can make an arrangement for that to happen, he said.

  • Make a mistake

E.g. Whenever we make mistakes, our teacher corrects them for us.

  • Make a suggestion / a point

E.g. John always makes himself a cup of tea when he gets to work.

  • Make an effort / an excuse

E.g. You can’t learn a language without making an effort.

  • Make a complaint

E.g. I made a complaint to the manager about the poor service in the restaurant.

  • Make a difference

E.g. Higher wages would make a big difference to our quality of life.

  • Make sure/ peace / believe

E.g. Both countries can rebuild now that they have made peace with each other.

       Our kids love to make believe they’re superheroes with superhuman powers.

  • Make time

E.g. It’s important to make time to read toy our children.

  • Make friend

E.g. Jenny finds it hard to make friends.

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5) Prepare something

  • Make a cake / (a cup of) tea / coffee

E.g. Can you make a cake in the shape of Australia?

  • Make breakfast / lunch / a sandwich

E.g. I’m making dinner – it’ll be ready in about ten minutes.

  • Make the bed

E.g. I always make the bed before cleaning my teeth, washing my face, combing my hair every morning.

  • Make a booking/ reversation

E.g. Shall I make a reservation for 8 o’clock at that Japanese restaurant?

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Want to study more of collocations and their use?

No problem! you can download below study material for studying 1000+ collocations. OR join City Coaching Centre where you can learn sentence making covering all necessary grammar topics in detail, and in easy ways within a month.


Collocations File 1

Collocations File 2

Collocations File 3

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Also Check following Chapters for improving your sentence-making

Active Passive

Direct Indirect Speech/Narration


Sentences with That




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