time to complete: 10-15 minutes

We will now turn to look at one of these types of vocabulary knowledge, collocations, as it is very important for our accuracy in writing and speaking.

We use the term ‘collocation’ to describe two words that are frequently found together in a language. For example, we say ‘heavy rain’ but we don’t say ‘hefty rain’. Even though ‘hefty’ has a similar meaning to ‘heavy’, it never goes with ‘rain’ in English. Similarly, we say ‘weak coffee’ and ‘fast computer’, not ‘powerless coffee’ or ‘quick computer’. Learning collocations will help you sound more natural when you speak or write.


heavy rain

weak coffee

fast computer

hefty rain

powerless coffee

quick computer

Task: Let’s do some practice with general English collocations before we move on to academic vocabulary.


As you can see from the examples in the task, collocations come in all kinds of grammatical relationships e.g. verb + noun, adjective + noun, noun + noun, etc., including prepositions and even specific forms e.g. ‘weather permitting’, not ‘weather permitted’. So, it is very important to learn how words in English are combined if we want to sound natural when we speak and write. 

But, what about academic collocations? Is there such a thing? Let’s find out!