Difference between collocation, fixed expression and idioms?
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Collocations, fixed expressions and idioms all relate to the combination of words.
[Tweet “Collocation refers to the way in which some words regularly occur together.”]
Collocation refers to the way in which some words regularly occur together.
- Do homework
- Make the bed
- A golden opportunity
- Take a risk
- A faint smell
There are no rules on how these collocations are formed, they simply ‘sound right’ to the native speaker.
- You say heavy smoker but you would never say strong smoker and you say a powerful car not a strong car.
- Referring to height, we would never say Tom is high, we say Tom is tall.
- We take a quick shower, not a fast shower and eat fast food, not quick food.
- We have a blazing row, not a burning row and have a heated argument, not a hot argument.
There are different types of collocations:
- Stale bread
- Rotten apples
- Regular exercise
- Weak tea
- Bright light
Noun + verb:
- Cats purr
- Fire burns
- Snow falls
- Wind blows
- Kettle sings
Verb + noun:
- Give a presentation
- Do homework
- Take a shower
- Commit murder
- Make a complaint
The most common collocations with Do
Adverb + adjective:
- Fully aware
- Completely satisfied
- Utterly appalled
- Terribly disappointed
- Absolutely exhausted
Noun + noun:
- Liquor licence
- Milk chocolate
- Round of applause
- Bar of soap
- Fire safety
Verb + adverb / Adverb + verb:
- Finely chopped
- Rely heavily
- Rain heavily
- Whisper softly
- Flatly refuse
Check out these links for more collocations:
An excellent online collocation dictionary can be found here:
[Tweet “A fixed expression is the standard way of expressing a concept or an idea.”]
A fixed expression is a form of expression that has taken on a more specific meaning than the words themselves. It is the standard way of expressing a concept or an idea; it is something we ordinarily say in certain situations.
- Pleased to meet you
- All of a sudden
- On the other hand
- More trouble than it’s worth
- Neither here nor there
[Tweet “An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own.”]
An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own.
- A can of worms (a complicated problem)
- A chip of the old block (a child with similar characteristics to one of their parents)
- To be out for the count (to be sleeping peacefully)
- Rub someone the wrong way (annoy or bother someone)
- Pull someone’s leg (tease someone by trying to make them believe something that is not true)
Check out this excellent link for lots of different examples of idioms: