For example, the most common modifiers for the word "car" might be "used", "stolen" and "rented". I think this could be a very useful tool when you are writing and you are looking for a particular word, but you can't remember what it is. A web tool would be ideal, but that's not necessary

  • Use google on the word and look at the examples it gives you, the words around 'car'. – Mitch Jan 16 '14 at 21:54
  • @Casebash: Before you go too far along that road, you might like to note that his, her, big, small car, for example, are all far more common collocations than used or stolen. And even black, red car are more common that rented. For reasons that escape me, grey and silver car occur relatively infrequently in Google Books, even though they're probably the most common ones actually on the road (in Britain, at least). – FumbleFingers Jan 16 '14 at 22:39
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is asking for resources. – FumbleFingers Jan 16 '14 at 22:41
  • @FumbleFingers It's probably exactly because the color is so common that they aren't used often in books. They aren't exciting - red (fast! passion! etc) and black (cool, dark, scary, secret, etc) are probably most used (at a guess, blue and/or yellow are probably close behind). – Doc Jan 16 '14 at 22:44
  • @Doc: Except that I specifically said probably because it's a toss-up between black and grey/silver which is actually the most common! I see what you mean though - writers use modifiers that will tend to evoke a reaction (if the car is fictional anyway, the writer may as well make it a colour that means something to the reader, otherwise why mention the colour at all?). – FumbleFingers Jan 16 '14 at 22:58

The English Collocation Dictionary Online and other dictionaries of collocations give common collocates; many of these will be of the form modifier + headword.


You can find related words and phrases to particular word on Longman dictionary. There are not the most common modifiers, but I think it could help you while writing as there are the phrases which are used with it.

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