One area of English where you can ALWAYS make quick, effective improvements is vocabulary.
With English vocabulary, a great place to start making improvements is “collocations”. These are words which naturally go with other words. So, for example, we say “apply for a job” (not “ask for a job”) or “a dream job” (not “a best job”.)
The “problem” with English collocations is that they’re probably not the same in your language. For example, the verb or adjective that goes with a noun in English may not be the same verb or adjective in your language. This means that it’s easy – and understandable – to make mistakes with English collocations.
Collocation mistakes sound strange to native speakers. Because a collocation is “natural”, it sounds funny when the wrong word is used. Here’s an example I heard recently:
“be full of debt” (“pieno di debiti” in Italian – what would you say in your language?)
A couple of similar mistakes:
“to fill someone with bruises”
“to fill someone with kisses”
Instead, we’d say “have a lot of debt”, or “be in debt”, or even “be heavily in debt”. We’d also “cover someone with bruises” or “cover someone with kisses”. (That’s cute!)
1% Collocation Coaching In Practice – A 3-Step Process
- Think about a noun or verb that you use a lot in English – for work or in your daily life. Go and look it up in a dictionary or look online. My recommendation is to search for the word, then type collocation next to it. For example:
job collocation in English
You’ll probably get a link to a collocations dictionary, from where you can see common collocations with that word.
2. Now take a look at the entries. Are you using this noun or verb correctly? Are you using it with the right collocation? Make a note of it and see how you can apply it in your own examples.
3. Then, the next time you use this noun or verb in English, pause for a second so you can remember the correct way to use it.
You can eliminate vocabulary mistakes easily one at a time by checking the collocations. Over time, these improvements add up to a much greater impact.
Want help in finding your 1% English improvements? Book a free 20-minute coaching call with me in the link below!