A collocation is two or more words that often go together. These combinations just sound “right” to native English speakers, who use them all the time. On the other hand, other combinations may be unnatural and just sound “wrong”. Look at these examples:
the fast train fast food
the quick train quick food
a quick shower a quick meal
a fast shower a fast meal
There are several different types of collocation. Collocations can be adjective + adverb, noun + noun, verb + noun and so on. Below you can see seven main types of collocation in sample sentences.
adverb + adjective
Invading that country was an utterly stupid thing to do.
We entered a richly decorated room.
Are you fully aware of the implications of your action?
adjective + noun
The doctor ordered him to take regular exercise.
The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage.
He was writhing on the ground in excruciating pain.
noun + noun
Let’s give Mr Jones a round of applause.
The ceasefire agreement came into effect at 11am.
I’d like to buy two bars of soap please.
noun + verb
The lion started to roar when it heard the dog barking.
Snow was falling as our plane took off.
The bomb went off when he started the car engine.
verb + noun
The prisoner was hanged for committing murder.
I always try to do my homework in the morning, after making my bed.
He has been asked to give a presentation about his work.
verb + expression with preposition
We had to return home because we had run out of money.
At first her eyes filled with horror, and then she burst into tears.
Their behaviour was enough to drive anybody to crime.
verb + adverb
She placed her keys gently on the table and sat down.
Mary whispered softly in John’s ear.
I vaguely remember that it was growing dark when we left.