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Commonly Paired Words Part I

Every language has words that standardly go together in stock phrases, also called "collocations." These are word combinations that are preferred by native speakers, and though there are other words that you could use to express the same thing, those other words might sound awkward or odd. For instance, you would usually say "a strong cup of tea." A "powerful cup of tea" or a "robust cup of tea" may have a very similar meaning, they sound odd to the ears of a native speaker. On the positive side, such word pairings sound very "normal," but they could also be criticized as being clichés when they are overused.

 

Advice is usually offered or given:

 

What advice do you give to five-year-old girls who want to be president of the United States?
Captions 15-16, Entertainment Weekly: The Obamas Answer Kids' Adorable Questions 

 

If I was to give them any advice, I think it would be just go for it.
Caption 22, Naish Kiteboarding TV: Snowkiting Ragnarok

 

If the advice is heeded, then it is usually said to have been taken

 

I don't know how well I took their advice.
Caption 65, Numberphile: Connect Four

 

Homework, the extra studying that you do away from school, is usually done, though your parents or teacher might also ask you if you have finished your homework

 

But you can't do that if you don't study and do your homework.
Caption 49, Entertainment Weekly: The Obamas Answer Kids' Adorable Questions 

 

A risk, which describes doing something that is somehow dangerous, is something that is taken.

 

Our clients take big risks everyday.
Caption 25, Jump for Opportunity: Official Video

 

I decided to take the risk and tell her.
Caption 44, The Apartment: The Date

 

You could dispatch or relay an email, but the standard expression is for an email to be sent

 

Could you please send me an email?
Caption 51, Business English: Starting on a new job

 

And then finally, Eric sent me an email.
Caption 43, Rumble, The Indians Who Rocked the World: Electric Playground Interview

 

Further Learning
Go to this page and see some other examples of standard English word combinations. Try to generally pay attention to the way words are combined by native English speakers and try to learn these phrases, since many are particularly unique to the language, such as the English phrase "to make up your mind" about something. See if you can find some examples of that phrase on Yabla English.

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