Words and their collocations

dr albert p’ rayan is an ELT Resource Person and  Professor of English. He can be contacted at rayanal@yahoo.co.uk

Published: 20th February 2017 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th February 2017 10:09 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

A regular reader of the column, in his email, requested that I discuss some expressions that he came across in news reports about the Supreme Court’s verdict. While going through a few of the reports I picked these words/phrases:  to nix someone’s dream, to contest election, to frame a charge, to clear the deck, to float a forum, to stake a claim, to sink one’s differences and to throw one’s weight behind something.


The phrases listed above are word chunks or collocations which refer to words that always go together. Learning words in chunks is an effective way of learning a language. In a few of my previous columns I have discussed the advantages of learning collocations over individual words.

The word ‘nix’ means ‘to put an end’ to something. ‘Nix’ collocates with nouns such as request, dream, possibility, idea, etc. 


  Sasikala’s conviction nixed any possibility of her becoming Tamil Nadu’s CM. 
  My mom nixed my request to spend my holidays in Goa.


The synonyms of ‘contest’ are: compete for, contend for, vie for, challenge for, fight for, battle for, struggle for, and tussle for. To use the preposition ‘in’ after the verb ‘contest’ is not acceptable.  It is a common error made by learners. 


  Sasikala can’t contest polls for 10 years.
Here are some common collocations of ‘contest’: enter a contest, compete in a contest, win/lose a contest, withdraw from a contest, hold a contest.


The term ‘charge’ collocates with many verbs such as file, level, make, drop, withdraw, answer, face, admit, dismiss, deny, refute, reject and fabricate.


  He faces a criminal charge.
  She dismissed the charge that she indulged in corrupt practices.
‘Clear the decks’ is originally a naval expression asking the seamen to be ready for an action or a battle.  Now, it refers to an act of removing hurdles and being ready for something. Example:


    Two weeks ago, decks were cleared for Sasikala to become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Now, the Supreme Court verdict has cleared the decks for someone else to become the CM of the state.
 ‘To stake a claim’ means to assert one’s right to something. For example, labourers may stake claim to form a union or association.  


  A week ago, Sasikala staked claims to form the government. 
If you ‘sink differences’ with someone, you forget your disagreements with the person. Here is an 
example of how the phrase is used in a sentence. 


  Let’s sink our differences and work together so that we can achieve our common goal.
The meaning of the expression ‘to throw one’s weight behind someone or something’ is to use one’s influence and do everything possible to help the person or to achieve something. 
  Our boss is throwing his weight behind the project.

Stay up to date on all the latest Edex news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp