The smart way to improve your English | Learn Collocations

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

⭐️Improve your English pronunciation and expression by imitating a native English speaker –

Have you heard of collocations? When two or more words go together naturally in English – words that often appear together in sentences.
Learning COLLOCATIONS (rather than individual words) helps you to sound more fluent and natural when you use English!
In this lesson, I’ll go through 20 collocations with the verb MAKE (words that often appear in sentences with the verb make!)

Want to keep studying English collocations? I recommend these Collocations dictionaries:

I recommend:
Oxford Collocations Dictionary:
English Collocations In Use: (Advanced Learners)
(Online Tool)

CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.

Video Transcript
Section 1s
Hello, I’m Emma from mmmEnglish! Has a native English speaker ever said to you:

“Hmm… What you said doesn’t sound right. “
“We just wouldn’t say it like that.”

Often, this is simply because you’ve used the wrong words in combination with each other. There are only a small number of words that work with a single word in English.

Take the word question for example. It’s a noun, or it can be a verb, but it’s a noun! And there are a group of adjectives that are often used with this noun to help describe it.

An awkward question or a difficult question. Relevant, probing, or a burning question. There are also a group of verbs that are often used with question. Ask, answer, face or have.

Now, compare this to the verb, make, which is not usually used with question.

Certain adverbs and prepositions are also used with question when others are not. When words go together like this, they’re called collocations, words that frequently occur together in English sentences.

The reason why native speakers say that something you said sounds weird or strange is because they’re to used to hearing those words together. They don’t often get said together, so it sounds a bit strange.

Part of the problem is that you’re probably translating words from your own language directly into English. Words that are commonly used together in your language but in English, they’re not.

Hacer una fiesta.

It makes sense in Spanish but if you translate those words directly, you get “make a party” which is not the correct way to say this in English. Can you think of any examples in your own language that are like this? Where you translate words directly and it just doesn’t work in English, it doesn’t make sense. I’m sure you can think of some that you already know.

It’s likely that collocation is the problem – that you’re just using the wrong words together. The problem here is what it’s very easy to get into a bad habit and use words that sound okay in your own language, when you translate them in your head, but they sound strange or even wrong in that combination in English.

To explore the idea of collocations a little more, we’re going to focus on just one simple verb, make. And we’ll explore some of the common collocations of that verb, specifically, make with a noun or a noun phrase.

And we’ll just have to start with food. The verb make is so commonly used with food, drinks and meals, like coffee and tea.

Can I make you a coffee?

It’s used with meals like lunch, dinner, breakfast.

I prefer to make breakfast at home on Sundays.

You can use it with food, cake, soup, dessert.

If you’re making dinner, I’ll make dessert!

But there are many other nouns that collocate with make and as I read them out, make a note of the ones that you don’t know and look them up in the dictionary after this lesson.

First one, decision: He’s made the decision to quit his job after 15 years.

Excuse: Stop making excuses!

Love: They made love the night before he left the country.

Offer: After his interview, they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse!

Assumption: We don’t want to make any assumptions yet, but he appears to be guilty.

Friends: We’ve made some really good friends since we moved here.

Phone call: Can I borrow your phone, I need to make a quick call.

You can make a sound or a noise: Don’t make a sound! If we make a noise, they’ll hear us.

You can make your bed: I make my bed as soon as I get up in the morning.

Complaint: If you’re unhappy with the service, you should make a complaint.

And apology: You need to make him an apology.

Not here, that it’s quite formal to use make with complaint and apology. In informal speech and writing, you can use the verb forms complain and apologise in the same way.

If you re unhappy with the service, you should complain.
You need to apologise to him.

You can make a mess: The kids made a mess when we went out for dinner last night.

You can make a plan: Have you made any plans for your summer holidays?

You can also make mistakes: I’ll admit that we may have made a mistake there.

Profit: After three years profit, the business is finally making a profit!

But equally, you can also use make with loss: After three years, the business is still making a loss.

You can make a speech: Once the groom made his speech, the music started.

Effort, you can make an effort: He really made an effort to have fun at the party.

You can make a list: I think we’ve invited about 200 people… I really should make a list so I know for sure!

You can make some money: I heard he made money on the internet.

You can make progress: Your son has made a lot of progress at school this year.

Make a statement: He witness the fight. He needs to make a statement to the police.

And change: After our poor performance last month, we need to make some changes.

You can make an error, which is similar to a mistake: Uh ohh.. I think I’ve made an error.

Make a promise: You made me a promise last year!

Time: She needs to make more time for her family.

So Emma, what nouns aren’t used with make? Well, lots but some of the common mistakes are:

Make a party: He’s making a party on Friday night.

The verbs throw, have and plan a party are possible but make doesn’t sound right. Don’t use make with party in English.

Make a picture: The artist makes her pictures outside.

The verbs draw, create, paint a picture are possible but make is not.

Make a barbecue: We’re making a barbecue in the park tonight, do you want to come?

The verbs have and cook are possible here but make just doesn’t make sense.

Make an accident is also incorrect: I hope they didn’t make an accident.

The verbs have, saw and cause are possible here but make is not. The idea of English collocations can be pretty overwhelming. We just focused on the verb make and look at all of the different nouns that it collocates with. And that’s not all of them. But learning words together like this in chunks in common collocations is a really good idea. You’re learning and practising a word along with the other words that it commonly appears with.

Next time you learn a new word, I want you to try it. Let me show you what I mean.

Let’s say you just heard the noun, innovation, and you wanted to spend some time exploring some of the words that it’s commonly used with. That’s a really smart idea!

And you can easily do that by using an English collocations dictionary. I’ve got a few links to some good ones in the description box below but innovation is commonly used with the adjectives technical, scientific, educational innovation, design or product innovation.

Scientific innovations are helping the team to develop new technologies.

There are some common verbs that are used with innovation. Encourage, foster, facilitate, stifle or hinder.

The management team encourage creativity and innovation.

Occur. How does innovation occur?

And a common preposition used with innovation is in.

Innovations in technology allowed the research to progress.

Well I really hoped that this lesson helped you to see the value of learning common collocations together, learning words in chunks together to train your brain which words to use with other words. This type of study is crucial to training your brain to think in English instead of in your own language. It helps words come to your mind more quickly and efficiently without thinking about it too much, if you’re learning them together.

If you enjoyed this lesson, make sure you subscribe by clicking that red button down there. I make a new lesson every week. You can also translate this video very kindly for your friends and the link to do that is in the description below.

And of course you can keep practising with more mmmEnglish lessons, right here.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week for another lesson. Bye for now!


Links mentioned in the video

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