Collocation refers to the appearance or occurrence of groups or pairs of words, particularly when more frequent than random chance would suggest.

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17
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6answers
78k views

“Call me through/at/on this number”

What is the difference between the following when referring to telephone calls? Please call me on this number. You can reach me on this number. Please call me at this number. You can reach ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

What does a door do on its hinge?

In general sense of the language we would say that a door "opens" or "closes". But I am looking for a one-word answer (preferably) that would indicate its motion around the hinge. Does it swivel, ...
12
votes
3answers
374 views

Extend or go beyond a promise

Can one fulfill “beyond” a promise? Is it possible to say “extending the fulfillment of a promise”? I am trying to express that I hope I fulfilled a promise and then some. This is for the ...
12
votes
4answers
119k views

What is the difference between “sardonic” and “sarcastic”?

Basically, sardonic and sarcastic both stand for mocking gestures, but what is the difference in their contextual use? Are there any other words that represent a similar gesture?
11
votes
11answers
3k views

“School Students” — what, like there's any other kind of student?

I think this might be a Pennsylvania thing: every so often, you'll see a van or small bus labeled, not "School Bus" or anything sane normal like that, but "School Students". Whenever I see a van ...
11
votes
3answers
613 views

Make/take a photograph?

In English we say "take a photograph" whereas in some other languages one would say "make a photograph". The French say "take" even though they "make" far more often than we do in English, and ...
10
votes
3answers
7k views

“Quick question” vs. “short question”

Which one would you prefer: "quick question" or "short question" for a question that you know is simple and will only take a moment to answer? Or maybe "simple question"? The problem I have with ...
9
votes
5answers
53k views

“Centered on” or “centered around”

I have often heard presenters talking about something centered around another thing, but it seems a bit illogical and hence improper to talk like this. Am I right about this?
8
votes
5answers
13k views

When to use words quite, rather, pretty, fairly etc

Is there any logic to this or just decision? I would use the following combinations: quite amazing rather large pretty good I would not use the following combinations: pretty amazing quite large ...
8
votes
1answer
312 views

Use of “medicine students”

Recently I used the term medicine students to mean students of medicine. This was corrected to medical students. I googled and found that the term I chose is not really used. However I still hear ...
7
votes
4answers
744 views

How can I learn to get collocations right?

I read an article about collocation which includes an example: We can say highly sophisticated, and we can say extremely happy. highly happy and extremely sophisticated would be wrong. How can I ...
6
votes
12answers
1k views

What vivid verb should I use when someone “turns into” a zombie?

In conversation, when someone says they appreciate my brain, I need an effective comeback. I was going to say, "I hope that you are not turning into a zombie with your love for my brain." But I feel ...
6
votes
5answers
3k views

“desert island” versus “deserted island”

What is the difference between "a desert island" and "a deserted island"? Are they synonyms?
6
votes
7answers
43k views

Is there a difference between “vice”, “deputy”, “associate”, and “assistant” as descriptive job titles?

When vice, deputy, associate, or assistant is collocated with a job title, such as vice manager, deputy manager, associate manager, assistant manager, I wonder how to rank or differentiate their ...
5
votes
4answers
7k views

“Take a degree” or “do a degree”

In university I learned that we say to do a degree in X but I saw many other sources where it says to take a degree in X. Which is correct? Is there a regional difference?
5
votes
5answers
706 views

Does a laser “etch” things, or does it “engrave” them?

Which (if any) of these adjectives would you use for describing a surface that has been cut using a laser beam: a laser-etched surface a laser-engraved surface a laser-(something else) surface a ...
5
votes
1answer
10k views

“No point in” vs. “no point of” vs. “no point to”

Point in, point of, point to. (Point in the sense of "purpose".) What are the differences among these — in meaning? in usage (each is used in certain constructions or with certain ...
4
votes
3answers
522 views

Construction of to cheat

I am not a native speaker and I would like to write a sentence using the verb "to cheat on". The situation I want to describe is that someone (Mr X) has lied to someone else (Mr Y) convincing Mr Y to ...
4
votes
4answers
335 views

Verb used with “threshold”

I am wondering what verb collocates with threshold. I can think of verbs such as surpass, cross, pass, but I am not sure if they are correct to use here. The threshold I am referring to is not a ...
4
votes
4answers
3k views

Can you say “raise an animal”?

It was said as a way to comfort someone who had just broken up with her boyfriend, and someone said something like "go raise a dog". I know it's okay to say raise an animal; I just feel so weird ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “sound approach” an accepted phrase?

English is not my first language, and in my language (Bosnian) we write just as we speak ; so from time to time, I encounter phrases which I know I have heard before, but am not sure if I am writing ...
4
votes
2answers
11k views

“In the market” or “on the market”

I am trying to help a friend of mine proofreading an English email and she has a preposition there that I am not completely certain is correct. The original sentence was this: [Name of the ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

“Excel at something” vs. “excel in something”

I've come across a question while writing an exam Roger really excelled ___ sports A) at B) on C) in D) for My first thought was 'in', later I remembered using 'at' also. I've ...
4
votes
2answers
670 views

“Prices of” vs “prices for”

I came across two different sentences, from The Wall Street Journal, both containing the word "prices" but with different prepositions, "of" and "for". Here are the two sentences. Audi Cuts ...
4
votes
4answers
22k views

“Elder brother” or “older brother”?

I've read both forms in newspapers and online news: elder brother and older brother. What's the difference between them? When should I use which?
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “with respect to” wrong?

My English professor suggested yesterday that the expression "with respect to", despite being frequently used is simply wrong. He said that one should rather use "in respect of", which in turn is not ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“High aspirations” vs. “large aspirations”

When you intend to say someone has a strong desire to achieve something high or great, is it proper to say they have "high aspirations"? Or would it be "large aspirations", or something else?
3
votes
2answers
438 views

What does this sentence mean by “my cold came out of remission”?

What does the part "my cold came out of remission" mean in the following sentence? It seems that my cold came out of remission… I'll work from home today and hopefully kick it before Monday.
3
votes
1answer
88 views

switch genders or gender?

Recently I read an article on Wired.com "Apple Hires Hacker Who Helped Save Windows From Security Hell", http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/12/apple-hires-hacker/ Here is a sentence I'm kind ...
3
votes
2answers
520 views

“Explain the reason why”

Is it natural to say "he explained the reason why he was late"? I suspect that it doesn't make sense. But I reckon "That is the reason why he's sick" is acceptable with "the reason". Could it be ...
3
votes
4answers
861 views

“To be assigned to” usage question

Many years ago I translated a document and wrote "he was assigned to an operation" (context: hospital operation, the assignee is undergoing one). An English professor who volunteered to copyedit my ...
3
votes
3answers
139 views

What preposition do we use with the adjective 'telling' when it means 'revealing'?

Example I: "How telling this is [of/about] the way international students continue to be perceived by their American peers on U.S. campuses?" Example II: "Public opinion is telling ...
3
votes
3answers
105 views

“Build a PC”, “assemble a PC”, or something else?

When you have all the parts of a PC and you need to connect them into a working PC, which is the appropriate verb to describe this action: build, assemble or something else?
3
votes
2answers
722 views

Where did the expression “achievement unlocked” come from?

Why achievement is unlocked? Achievement is not a lock, door or safe. You don't get anything after unlocking. I have an assumption that it came from gaming history, word "unlocked" just transferred ...
3
votes
1answer
68 views

Collocations for “compromise”

Fairly simple one this time: What’s the best collocation with compromise if I want to say that it has been reached and, hopefully, is going to last long? I’m looking for the most natural, the “first ...
3
votes
4answers
605 views

“Enter a market” vs. “break into a market”

Could you please shed light on the difference, if any, between "enter" vs. "break into" a market? Are they synonyms and interchangeable, or does the latter of the two imply more force?
3
votes
1answer
185 views

Can something “hold a property”

In academic writing, it is common to refer to or prove properties about the main object of an article. If I prove a property for (some object), I know I can use the phrase: Property X holds for ...
3
votes
3answers
11k views

“Gain/acquire/gather/get experience”

According to my Longman dictionary, gain experience and get experience seem to mean the same: gain/get experience: The programme enables pupils to gain some experience of the world of work. But ...
2
votes
5answers
12k views

”Demand in/on/for something”

I am not sure whether to use in, on, or for after the word demand in the following sentence: The continuing demand on high-quality software that is reusable and easy to maintain and modify after ...
2
votes
4answers
121 views

What do you do to a gap?

I failed to find a way to reconcile the gap between reality and my ideal. I tried two expressions, 'bring down the gap' and 'overcome the gap', but I realized that the gap cannot be brought ...
2
votes
3answers
768 views

What is the correct verb for 'driving' a ferry?

The captain of a ferry appears to steer or drive it. What is the correct verb for this?
2
votes
4answers
3k views

“Fall term”, “autumn semester”, “autumn term” or “fall semester”?

Please clarify which is UK English, American English, and where and when to use which: Fall term (American English?) Autumn semester (UK English?) Autumn term (wrong?) Fall semester (wrong?)
2
votes
3answers
339 views

“Broad surface” or “large surface” [closed]

When comparing the total surface area of (geometrical) bodies, can I describe it as "large surface" (or "largest") or, as an editor suggested, do I have to use "broad surface"? Edit: Example ...
2
votes
2answers
418 views

Do I take a small nap or a light nap?

I heard a friends say that he's going to take a small nap. Is this correct usage? I thought we only take light naps.
2
votes
2answers
10k views

Is it “expert in” or “expert on”?

When would you use "expert in" and when would you use "expert on"? A quick google search yields about the same for both, but I have a feeling "expert in" can occur in sentences somehow with a ...
2
votes
3answers
493 views

Do you “hit” or “press” a button?

I am currently writing an user manual for a software tool, providing step-by-step usage instructions. I am aware that pressing a button is a perfectly fine expression. However, I'm trying to find ...
2
votes
1answer
213 views

“Imitation jewelry” or “costume jewelry”

I've looked up the translation of the word bisutería in Spanish and it translated to imitation jewelry or costume jewelry. Which of the two is mostly used in British English?
2
votes
3answers
67 views

Word for “quietly accumulating shares of stock by traders when the stock is at a lower price”?

I'm looking for a word or expression that means "the act of quietly accumulating shares of stock by traders when the stock is at a lower price"?
2
votes
2answers
671 views

What is the difference between the adjectives/adverbs “broad” and “wide”? the nouns “breadth” and “width”? [duplicate]

Broad and wide are near synonyms but only near, since "a broad smile" is a more common collocation than "a wide smile", and you can say "eyes wide open" but not "eyes broad open". Breadth and width ...
2
votes
1answer
170 views

“Slit one's wrists” vs. “cut one's wrists” [closed]

Which one is used more often? You can cut your leg, hand etc. but do you slit or cut your wrists? Is the correct word related to the method of action that causes wrists to bleed?