An English words

The Word Combinations In English

This article returns to the area of multi-word expressions. To achieve a level 7 or above grade, you need to show a familiarity with the different ways that words can be combined. Specifically, the IELTS descriptor for level 7 ‘ Lexical Resource’ states that a student at this level should be able to ‘use less common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation’.
As well as noticing noun, verb and adjective combinations, you should also build up your knowledge of prepositional phrases and fixed expressions.
The following exercises will help you to assess the level of your own knowledge regarding word combinations and help you decide how much extra work you need to do in this area.

Noun Combinations
Nouns often combine with specific verbs or adjectives.
Exercise 1
Complete the following sentences by adding the appropriate adjective or verb with a  noun from the columns below. They are all sentences that could be used in the following task 2 essay.
Motorways help people to travel quickly and cover long distances but they also cause problems. What are the problems of motorways and hat solutions are there?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
  1. Motorways also have …… ……. such as speeding, damage to the environment and pollution.
  2. Accidents due to tiredness are a fairly ……. ………..  on motorways.
  3. There are ……. …….. about whether or not motorways encourage more dangerous driving.
conflicting
phenomenon
negative
concerns
strong
claims
common
aspects
raises
evidence
Exercise 2
This exercise focuses on adjective – noun combinations frequently used when discussing a topic.
Rewrite the following sentences using the words in brackets following each sentence.
The sentences could all be possibly made in the following essay.
Action movies with spectacular car chases are very popular with young people. it is often said that these sorts of movies lead to an increase in car accidents among young drivers as they try to copy what they have seen in the films.

Do you agree that such movies increase the amount of bad driving? What can be done to encourage young people to drive more safely?

 

  1. Many people are critical of the influence of high speed driving in films on young people. (widespread opposition)
  2. People on both sides of the argument agree that any favourable presentation of drink driving is unacceptable. (common ground)
  3. Any high-speed crash is bound to involve serious injury. (inevitable consequence)
If you are serious about taking your IELTS writing to the next level, sign up for your FREE 3 part IELTS writing video course that takes you through both task 1 and task 2. The video lessons are led by our highly experienced UK native IELTS teacher, Katherine. We also provide you with exercises to test your understanding!
Sign up your FREE IELTS writing video course by clicking here.

 

Verb Combinations

 

As well as noun-verb combinations, common verb-adverb and verb-preposition combinations need to be learned.
Exercise 3

 

Choose the most suitable verb from the options below.
The sentences could all be possibly made in the following essay.
Some people think that there are things individuals can do to help prevent global climate change. Others believe that action by individuals is useless and irrelevant and that it is only governments and large businesses which can make a difference.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.
 
  1. Scientists have been closely following/identifying/discussing trends in climate change for the last fifty years.
  2. The general indifference of most of the population to the threat we are avoiding / facing/ making makes me pessimistic about any plan that relies on individual contributions.
  3. Research clearly examines /demonstrates/ raises the need for taking urgent action now.
Add the missing prepositional phrase.
The sentences could all be possibly made in the following essay.
Children should never be educated at home by their parents. Do you agree or disagree?
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for young people who decide to do this.
  1. The exam results of children educated at home seem to be much better ………….. those of children educated in schools.
  2. …………………..a comparative lack of resources, there is no strong evidence to suggest that home-educated children are any less familiar with their subjects than their school counterparts.
  3. ……………, home education seems to be a far more effective way of educating a child.
in particular
in comparison with
for the most part
in most respects
with the exception of
in spite of
Answers to exercises

 

Exercise 1
  1. Motorways also have negative aspects such as speeding, damage to the environment and pollution.
  2. Accidents due to tiredness are a fairly common phenomenon on motorways.
  3. There are conflicting claims about whether or not motorways encourage more dangerous driving.
Exercise 2
  1. There is widespread opposition in many places about the influence of high speed driving in films on young people.
  2. There is common ground that any favourable presentation of drink driving is unacceptable.
  3. Serious injury is an inevitable consequence of any high speed crash.
 Exercise 3
(Combinations to learn are in bold)
  1. Scientists have been closely following trends in climate change for the last fifty years.
  2. The general indifference of most of the population to the threat we arefacing makes me pessimistic about any plan that relies on individual contributions.
  3. Research clearly demonstrates the need for taking urgent action now.
Exercise 4
  1. The exam results of children educated at home seem to be much better in comparison with those of children educated in schools.
  2. In spite of a comparative lack of resources, there is no strong evidence to suggest that home-educated children are any less familiar with their subjects than their school counterparts.
  3. In most respects, home education seems to be a far more effective way of educating a child.
If you feel you need to widen your range of word combinations, the best way is to read more and to specifically look for examples of the types of combinations referred to in the above exercises.
If you are serious about taking your IELTS writing to the next level, sign up for your FREE 3 part IELTS writing video course that takes you through both task 1 and task 2. The video lessons are led by our highly experienced UK native IELTS teacher, Katherine. We also provide you with exercises to test your understanding!
Sign up your FREE IELTS writing video course by clicking here.
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