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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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2.5 Finding collocations

If you have never seen or used a particular word before or need help paraphrasing a phrase, you may want to look at different ways in which this word is normally used with other words. These combinations of words are called collocations.

You will practise this through the following activity.

Activity 6

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

Log on to the Just the word [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] website and enter the word ‘strategy’. You will be taken to the following page. 

Described image
Figure 3 Collocations for the word strategy

Use to find more formal equivalents for the words in bold in this sentence:

Management came up with a good strategy and used it throughout the organisation.


More formal equivalents of ‘To come up with a strategy’ are most of the items in the first cluster: adopt, develop, devise, draw up, formulate, outline and plan a strategy. The verbs devise, develop and plan are the most commonly used.

The phrase ‘good strategy’ is very general. To find the best equivalent, it would be necessary to know in what way the strategy was good. Possible alternative collocations are: comprehensive, effective, successful and clear strategy.

Equivalents of ‘use a strategy’ are: adopt, implement and pursue a strategy.