Based on the material sent by Denilso de Lima after his presentation at Braz-Tesol.
What are collocations?
Collocation is a phenomenon on which words are statistically much more likely to appear together than random chance suggests.
In other words, collocation is related to the way words are combined with each other.
Characteristics of collocations:
to be taken as a collocation, a combination of words has to be:
Well-known: Everybody who speaks the language has to know about that specific combination of words. If it is well-known, it’s worth teaching it!
Predictable: If a person misses a word, the other person may help them.
Usually used: if the combination is well-known and predictable, so it’ll be usually used. It has to be part of the language in use.
Examples of collocations:
Problema - problem: ambiental [environmental], cabeludo [knotty, thorny], cardíaco [heart], com bebidas [drink], com drogas [drug], crescente [growing], de habitação [housing], de pouca importância [minor, petty], gritante [glaring], insuperável [insurmountable], particular [personal], verdadeiro [central, key]
Why are collocations important?
If you know the word that combines with another word, you can communicate your ideas:
1) NATURALLY – don’t stumble over words, sentences are clear
2) FLUENTLY – feel at ease when speaking, communicate fast
A proficient student of English may be marked out as non-fluent if he/she happens
to misuse the most common combinations words have. They can be grammatically competent, but if they are not collocationally competent they will sound funny and weird.
Types of collocations:
Weak collocations: blue table, big table, big car, small car, old book...
These are very simple combinations of words!
Medium-strength collocations: rickety table, hold a conversation, throw a party, profoundly mistaken...
These are more elaborated combinations of words!