Tag: collocations

Apr
15
2015

Building chunks of language with Word Combinations 1

Wordsmyth’s Word Combinations, technically known as “collocations,” provide what is almost like a thesaurus in another dimension. You will find them in most entries in the Advanced Dictionary. Instead of listing synonyms, that is, words you might use instead of the word you are using, Word Combinations provide words to use with the word you are using. In other words, they help you start building a bigger chunk of a sentence.

Compare the thesaurus’s “similar words” for the verb “laugh”:

cackle, chortle, chuckle, giggle, guffaw, howl, snicker, snigger, tee-hee, titter…

…with the Word Combination adverbs for the verb “laugh”:

aloud, appreciatively, bitterly, derisively, good-naturedly, harshly, heartily, hysterically, loud, loudly, maniacally, nervously, outright, raucously, ruefully, scornfully, softly, uncontrollably, uneasily, uproariously 

 

The similar words allow you to choose from among words for more specific kinds of laugh: from a quiet titter to a hearty guffaw. The Word Combinations allow you to choose from among adverbs that writers frequently use to modify the verb “laugh.” “Ashley laughed uneasily at the cruel joke,” you might write. Or, “Ashley laughed good-naturedly when her error was pointed out.” (Ashley’s a likable person, evidently.)

 

Word Combinations are the most frequent companions of the headword in published writing and broadcast speech. Thus, they represent the many ways in which the headword-concept is typically talked about and the words typically used to talk about them.

In the entries, word combinations are organized by part of speech combination. Take, for example, the word ”election.” The word combinations for the noun “election” fall into four kinds:

adjective + (n.) election

verb + (n.) election 

(n.) election + verb   

noun + (n.) election

These formulas show you the kind of word (part of speech) and the position (before or after “election”) in which it appears in the corpus of texts. Notice that “election” has some verbs that appear before it and some that appear after it. Here are the full word combinations entries, with some comments in red:

 

adjective + (n.)election     coming, competitive, congressional, contested, democratic, direct, disputed, fair, federal, forthcoming, fraudulent, free, general, gubernatorial, judicial, legislative, local, mayoral, mid-term, multi-party, multiracial, municipal, nationwide, nonpartisan, off-year, parliamentary, periodic, presidential, primary, provincial, scheduled, statewide, transitional, upcoming

 

verb + (n.)election     boycott, cancel, certify, contest, delay, disrupt, influence, hold, monitor, oversee, overturn, postpone, precede, rig, schedule, steal, supervise  (These verbs that frequently have the word “election” as their object will give you a glimpse at all the things we can do to an election. )

 

(n.)election + verb      loom, near
(Which of these two verbs would you choose to talk about a coming election? It really depends how you feel about it.)

 

noun + (n.)election   ballot, boycott, candidate, eve, fall, financing, landslide, legitimacy, midterm, month, outcome, poll, primary, recall, registration, round, run-up, runoff, turnout, vote, voting

 

If you have read through these words, you may have noticed that some make sense when placed immediately before or after the headword “election”: “a fair election,” “postponed the election,” and “a fall [i.e., autumn] election.” True, you have to insert an article, “the” between “postpone” and “election,” but generally these are recognizable phrases that make sense.

 

Others, especially in the noun+noun category, don’t seem like a chunk of a sentence: “legitimacy election” and “voting election,” for example. Often a preposition will need to be inserted between the words: “the legitimacy of the election,” “voting in this election” are some possible ways the word combinations will work in these cases.
If you don’t know how to fit the two words together, a Google search on the two words will often return a number of similar examples of how they do.

 

You can try this little exercise to get a feel for how to fill out a word combination:

 

Complete these common noun + noun word combinations with the correct prepositions and articles.

1. the eve   ____    ____   election
2. the outcome  ____    ____   election
3. the turnout   ____    ____   election

 

 Word Combinations is a subscription feature, but you can try it by signing up for a 15-day free Trial Subscription, no strings attached. (There is a Trial Subscription button on most pages of the Wordsmyth website.) We also include Word Combinations with many Academic Vocabulary of the Day posts.

 

Read more about collocations here.
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Apr
06
2015

assess

Posted in Academic Vocabulary of the Day by admin2

@ ses

transitive verb
definition 1:  to examine and try to discover the extent, quality, or nature of; evaluate; measure.
example:  He had to assess this new situation carefully.
example:  They assessed the damage to her car.
example:  The teachers discussed a new way to assess students’ progress.

definition 2:  to estimate the value of (something) for tax purposes; value.
example:  Their house was assessed at two hundred thousand dollars.

definition 3:  to establish or set the amount of (a tax, fine, or the like).
example:  The judge assessed a fine of fifty dollars for the parking violation.
(more…)

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Mar
03
2015

distinct

Posted in Academic Vocabulary of the Day by admin2

dih stIngkt

adjective
definition 1:  clearly different or set apart; separate (often followed by “from”).
example:  The snow leopard is a species that is distinct from the leopard species.
example:  I have three distinct groups of friends.

definition 2:  plainly seen, heard, or understood; unmistakable or evident.
example:  On a clear day, the mountains are distinct.
example:  There is a distinct difference between what the candidate said last week and what he’s saying now.

definition 3:  very likely.
example:  It’s a distinct possibility that she’ll decide to look for another job.

(more…)

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Mar
02
2015

capacity

Posted in Academic Vocabulary of the Day by admin2

k@ pae sih ti

noun
definition 1:  the ability to receive, absorb, or contain.
example:  We need a tank with a larger capacity in order to hold enough water.

definition 2:  the total measured amount that can be contained.
example:  The gas tank has a capacity of thirteen gallons.

definition 3:  power or ability.
example:  He has the capacity to learn math if he wants to.

definition 4:  the ability to function or be used in a certain way.
example:  These athletes need to have the capacity to run at top speed for an extended amount of time.

definition 5:  a position in which one serves or functions.
example:  She spoke in her capacity as director.
(more…)

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Feb
19
2015

innate

Posted in Academic Vocabulary of the Day by admin2

ihn eIt

adjective
definition 1:  belonging to or existing in someone or some organism from the time of birth; inborn.
example:  Shyness may be an innate characteristic in some human beings.

definition 2:  of the essential nature of something.
example:  The innate complexity of the subject makes it challenging to teach.
(more…)

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