Forget Vocabulary and Grammar - Learn Language Chunks

The English language is chunky! That is to say, words often combine with other words to make phrases (or chunks). For example in collocations, phrasal verbs and expressions.

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Collocations

A collocation consists of words that are often found together (not just by chance).

You may know some verb-noun collocations already for example: 'catch a cold'; 'ask a favour' and 'keep a secret'. Perhaps you've also come across some adverb-adjective collocations too for example: 'bitterly disappointed'; 'utterly shocked' and 'pleasantly surprised'. What about adverb-verb collocations? For example: 'greatly admire'; 'deeply regret' and 'strongly advise'.

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But did you know that phrasal verbs can also make collocations? Here are some examples:

come up with + an idea

come down with + the flu

get down to + work /business

turn down + an offer/ a proposal

throw away + money

let out + a secret

How can I learn english words that go with phrasal verbs? Keep an eye out for the nouns that are often used alongside phrasal verbs. If a noun is often found with a phrasal verb, it could be a collocate.

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Common Colloquial language chunks

Here are some examples of language chunks that we often use in conversation. Notice how it is important to learn the whole chunk for it to make sense.

What's up? / How's it going? / How are things? (How are you?)

I'll treat you! - ¡te invito! (I'll pay!)

Play it by ear (wait to see what happens.)

Sleep on it - Why don't you sleep on it? (Make a decision overnight, not hastily)

Don't even go there! (Don't mention that subject!)

Cut it out! (Stop doing that!)

Hold your horses! (Wait!)

(I) don't mind if I do! (Yes, I'd like to!)

I'm all ears. (You have my full attention.)

Keep it/ this to yourself. (Don't tell anyone.)

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