Definition : The tendency of words to co-occur regularly and form "partnerships" in ways not fully explained by semantic or grammatical compatibility.
Examples : you can have a "bad cold" or a "heavy cold". You can have a "bad headache" but not a "heavy headache"; hard and heavily both collocate with the verb rain (it was raining hard/heavily) but only heavy collocates with the noun rain (The forecast is for heavy rain, not *hard rain).
These are examples of adjective/noun and verb/adverb collocations. Other word classes that may collocate include:
- verbs and prepositions (comment on... believe in... belong to... )
- adjectives and prepositions (interested in... different from... surprised at... afraid of...)
- delexicalised verbs and nouns (do your homework; make the beds; have lunch; take note)
Lewis, M. Teaching Collocation: Further Developments in the Lexical Approach. Thomson Heinle Language Teaching Publications ELT
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