top of page

Collocations in English

Collocations make your language sound natural.


The rule is quite simple:

Just use DO when referring to the process of acting or performing something, and MAKE when emphasising more the product or outcome of an action.

Some interesting facts on collocations

Did you know that “collocations are found in up to 70% of everything we say, hear, read or write”? (Hill, 2000, p. 53). In fact, English is considered to be similar to the way it is spoken by a native speaker when collocations are mastered and correctly used. Therefore, it is very important to use collocations appropriately as they help develop oral and written communication and production (Nation, 2001; Durrant, 2008; Boers and Lindstromberg, 2009), fluency (Károly, 2005) and proficiency in the target language (McCarthy, 2018).


Collocations can be defined as a set of two or more words that usually combine together in order to produce accurate sentences from a grammatical point of view (López Pérez and Benali Taouis, 2019, p. 101). For example, do homework or make lunch are collocations. However, they can be tricky for Spanish learners of English because we can find two verbs (do and make) for the same verb in Spanish, which is hacer. Thus, it becomes important to know the difference between these two verbs before making collocations with them.

Collocations taught me that I don't DO a fool of myself  but I MAKE a fool of myself (which is something I enjoy a lot ;-))


More information:

  • Boers, F. & Lindstromberg, L. (2009). Optimizing a Lexical Approach to Instructed Second Language Acquisition. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Durrant, Ph. L. (2008). High Frequency Collocations and Second Language Learning. (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). University of Nottingham.

  • Hill, J. (2000). Revising priorities: from grammatical failure to collocational success. In Lewis, Michael (Ed.), Teaching collocation: Further developments in the lexical approach (pp. 49-50). Language Teaching Publications.

  • Károly, A. (2005). The importance of raising collocational awareness in the vocabulary development of intermediate level learners of English. Eger Journal of English Studies, 5, 58-69.

  • López Pérez, S., & Benali Taouis, H. (2019). Analysis of noun (direct object) collocations with the high-frequency verb DO by Spanish students in an online learner corpus. Complutense Journal of English Studies, 27, 99-120.

  • McCarthy, M. (2018, January 4). Why good language teachers should take collocations seriously [Web log post].

bottom of page