PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

These are words that go together well…

As an English language student, you may have heard your teacher saying something like: ‘This just doesn’t sound right!’, after you made a mistake. And, frequently, they can’t exactly tell you (or give you a simple and clear rule) why something wouldn’t sound right in English!

It is, of course, that native speaker intuition (that you probably have in your own language) that some words simply do not go together well or, in other words, they do not collocate!

While in Spanish it is all right to say ‘tengo un dolor de cabeza fuerte’ (I’m just glad you can’t hear my Spanish accent at the moment…) or, literally translated, ‘I have a strong headache’, in English it would be quite weird to think of a ‘strong’ headache, because we wouldn’t just say it like that!

It is quite tricky, however, for a learner to know what exactly sounds right or not in a language that they are studying. That’s why you will have to use different resources to maximise your learning experience and continuously progress toward proficiency. Have you ever heard of a collocations dictionary?

We have a great suggestion for you:

Let’s have a look at the example we have mentioned: A ‘strong’ headache. If you have a look at headache, the dictionary is going to give us a few options of adjectives that would sound more natural to native ears: a bad headache, a severe headache, a pounding headache, a throbbing headache… etc.

This is one more tool you can use when you aren’t sure if two words should go together. Check the dictionary and let us know what options you would use in the following sentences.

1. They were ____________ supportive of the new ideas.(Adverb)
2. He was one of their most _________________ players. (Adjective)
3. Good customer service makes a ___________ difference when choosing a language school. (adjective)
4. They made _____________ progress after their lessons (adjective).
5. It’s only a ________ headache. I don’t really need a tablet (adjective).

Tell us what your options were this Thursday at English for Lunch.
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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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