Learning new vocabulary items should be done on a regular basis if you are learning a new language in order to expand your knowledge and to be able to express any idea when talking in your second language. In addition to learning single words, in order to reach a higher level of proficiency, you should get familiar with other vocabulary units which consist of two or more words but have a single meaning. Examples of such units are idioms and collocations. As a learner of English, it is important for you to be able to recognize and interpret correctly these vocabulary units so as not to misinterpret them during a conversation.
So how do we define a collocation?
Collocations are sets of two or more words that usually go together and they should be seen as a single unit of meaning, not as separate words.
Collocations are different in each language, and different languages use different combinations of words to express a certain idea. Collocations in the English language come as natural to native speakers, but non-native speakers need to learn to recognize and use them. By familiarizing yourself with collocations in the English language, you will be able to understand them in speech, and also to express yourself in a variety of different ways.
There are several types of collocations: noun + verb (do the homework), verb + noun (ride a bicycle), adjective + noun (heavy rain), verb + adverb (work hard), adverb + adjective (fully aware).
One way to learn new collocations is whenever you come across an unknown word, try to find words that go together (collocate) with it. Try to listen to native speakers, or to read books in English – by seeing collocations in a natural speech you will memorize them better. To ease your learning process, you can group collocations in different related categories which might help you remember them better.
We introduce you with collocations with the verb “break” to enrich your vocabulary.
1. Break a record
If you want to say that something has been done better that has ever been before, you can use the collocation “break a record”.
- “Did you hear? James has broken 500 meters record!”
2. Break a code
If someone discovers some secret that was protected, you may say that they “broke the code”.
- “They have broken the code and are now able to read the secret messages.”
3. Break a promise
You have probably been in a situation when someone promised you something, and they didn’t fulfill it. In that case, you can say that they “broke their promise”.
- “You told me you would help me paint my room, but you ended up breaking your promise.”
4. Break a habit
If you are doing something that is bad for you, and you probably want to stop doing it. It would be good for you to “break the habit”.
- “I don’t like that you are smoking, I think you should break the habit.”
5. Break the law
You should never find yourself in a situation where you did something that’s against the law. “Breaking the law” is never a good thing.
- “He broke the law when he was driving too fast.”
6. Break the silence
Silent pauses during a conversation can be unpleasant, and it always comes as a relief if someone “breaks the silence”.
- “She broke the silence by saying greeting everyone.”
7. Break free
If you are trapped or stuck in a certain position or situation, the best thing would be to escape or “break free”.
- “I want to break free from my boring daily routine.”
8. Break the news
It’s never a pleasant thing when you have to tell someone something bad. It’s difficult to find words when you need to “break the news”.
- “I am really sorry that I have to break the news to her.”
Learning collocations will raise your language skills to the next level and provide you with countless ways to express any idea that comes to your mind. Some collocations might seem odd to you at first, but they will become natural with time. By being familiar with a certain number of collocations, you will be able to easily participate in any conversations.
Can you share with us some collocation that sounded odd to you? What is your strategy for remembering collocations?
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