IELTS Vocabulary: Why Collocations Are Important - IELTS University (Singapore)

IELTS Vocabulary: Why Collocations Are Important

During the IELTS writing modules, the examiner will be looking out for certain skills and criteria in your essay to determine if your essay is a high-scoring response or not. One such skill is the ability to use collocations effectively. In this article, we will take a look closer at collocations and the IELTS writing module

What Is A Collocation?

A collocation is a group of words that are often found together. There may be some underlying grammatical reasons for some groupings. However more often not, certain groupings are formed due to long-term usage and these groups of words end up sounding more natural.

For example, strong tea sounds better than powerful tea. Even though strong and powerful mean the same thing.

Some words just naturally collate together, while others do not like, ‘do homework’ instead of  ‘make homework’, ‘make tea’ instead of ‘cook tea’ or ‘make the bed’ instead of ‘do the bed’

Different Types Of Common Collocations

Verb + noun

Noun +noun

Adjective + noun

Verb + adverb

Adverb + adjective

  • adverb + adjective
    • Correct: fully aware
    • Incorrect: outright aware
  • adjective + noun
    • Correct: deep sleep
    • Incorrect: low sleep
  • noun + noun
    • Correct: round of applause
    • Incorrect: group of applause
  • noun + verb
    • Correct: cats purr, dogs bark
    • Incorrect: cats bark, dogs purr
  • verb + noun
    • Correct: give a speech
    • Incorrect: send a speech

Why Are Collocation Improve In The IELTS Exam

In order to be able to score above a band 6.0 for Lexical Resources candidates must be able to use common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation.

This means to score well in the area of lexical resources, it's not enough to just use uncommon vocabulary you also need to know about which words are commonly used with those uncommon words.

It is important to note that, with all uncommon and new vocabulary, make sure that you are fully aware of a collocations usage before you use it in your essay. Using collocations incorrectly will negatively affect your score.

How Can You Learn Collocations

Many students often try to memorize lists of collocations. However, I don’t really think that this is an effective method. When you memorize lists you might just store the words in your long term memory but they will never really become part of your functional vocabulary (the words you use on a daily basis)

I think it's better to come across these collocations in a natural way. Like for example through active reading. In this way not only will you be able to source new vocabulary but you will also get a better idea about how these words are used in a natural way.

Also, make it a habit to look for the words that commonly collate with any new pieces of vocabulary that you might come across during your preparation.

You can easily find these common collocations by using online dictionaries such as Collins, Longmans, etc.

Remember to also practice using these collocations by speaking or writing a few sentences with them. This will make it easier to recall these words when we need to use them.