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How The English Language is Used?

How The English Language is Used?

How The English Language is Used?

Syntax: noun: the way in which words fit together to create complete and understandable phrases and sentences.  “‘I saw that she a cookie ate’ is an example of incorrect syntax.”; “The linguistics student studied English syntax.”; “Understanding a language’s syntax is important for understanding what makes a sentence grammatically correct.

Grammar: non-count noun: 1. the rules that explain how words are used in a language. “Comparing English and Japanese grammar made it easier for the American to learn Japanese.”

2. Speech or writing judged by how well it follows the accepted rules of grammar. “ ‘Her and I ate’ is bad/poor grammar.”; “I know some French, but my grammar isn’t very good.”

Expression: noun: a word or phrase.  “She used the slang expression ‘groovy’ to describe the music.”  “The poet uses some very creative expressions.” “The expression ‘to make fun of’ means ‘to ridicule.’” excuse/pardon/forgive the expression: used as a polite or humorous way of referring to a possibly offensive or annoying word or phrase.  “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse, (if you’ll) excuse the expression.”

What is collocation?

Collocation: non-count noun: 1.use of certain words together.  “Hearing Spanish spoken by native speakers helped me notice certain patterns of collocation.”          2. Two or more words that are commonly used together.  “I haven’t heard the collocation ‘I beg your pardon’ recently.  It seems like everyone simply says ‘excuse me’ nowadays.” 

A collocation is made up of two or more words that are commonly used together in English. There are different kinds of collocations in English. Strong collocations are word pairings that are expected to come together. Good collocation examples of this are combinations with the verbs “make” and “do”. You make a cup of tea, but do your homework. Collocations are very common in business settings when certain nouns are routinely combined with certain verbs or adjectives. For example, “draw up a contract,” “set a price,” “conduct negotiations,” “minimum wage,” etc.

When is a collocation NOT a collocation?

Not all linguists agree on what should be classified as collocations.  Some linguists treat fixed phrases as extended collocations (“as far as I’m concerned,” “not on your life,” “under the weather,” “if you’ve got the time”). Others suggest that when a sequence of words is 100% predictable, and allows absolutely no change except possibly in tense, it is not helpful to treat it as a collocation. Such sequences they generally treat as fixed expressions (“prim and proper”) or idioms (“kick the bucket”).

Seven Main Types of Collocation

  1. adverb + adjective
  • Invading that country was an utterly stupid thing to do.
  • We entered a richly decorated room.
  • Are you fully aware of the implications of your action?
  1. adjective + noun
  • The doctor ordered him to get regular exercise.
  • The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage.
  • He was writhing on the ground in excruciating pain.
  1. noun + noun
  • Let’s give Mr. Jones a round of applause.
  • She went to the country for some peace and quiet.
  • I’d like to buy two bars of soap please.
  1. noun + verb
  • The lion started to roar when it heard the dog barking.
  • Snow was falling as our plane took off.
  • The bomb went off when he started the car engine.
  1. verb + noun
  • The prisoner was hanged for committing murder.
  • I always try to do my homework in the morning, after making my bed.
  • He has been asked to give a presentation about his work.
  1. verb + expression with preposition
  • We had to return home when we ran out of money.
  • At first her eyes filled with horror, and then she burst into tears.
  • Their behavior was enough to drive anybody to crime.
  1. verb + adverb
  • She placed her keys gently on the table and sat down.
  • Mary whispered softly in John’s ear.
  • I vaguely remember that it was growing dark when we left.



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