Adjective and noun collocations in English

Adjective and noun collocations in EnglishAdjective and noun collocations in English. On this page, we will look at the common collocations which are created using adjectives and nouns. Unfortunately there are no rules to help you work this out – you just have to learn them one by one! However, to make this a little easier, we will split the page into related groups.

Adjective and noun collocations about food and drink

  • In the morning I have a cup of strong coffee, but in the evening I like a milky tea.
  • I had a glass of dry wine a few minutes before dinner. I don’t like having a stiff drink just before I eat. (a stiff drink is something like whisky or vodka).
  • It’s important to have a balanced diet and not to eat too much fast food or sugary drinks.
  • Some people find the strong smell of durian puts them off eating the fruit.
  • I’m not a big eater, so just a sandwich will be enough for lunch.
  • That was such a heavy meal – I think I need to have a short sleep! (A heavy meal is when there is a lot of rich or hard to digest food, after which you feel very full – almost uncomfortable. Note that this is NOT the same as a ‘big meal’).

People, health and feelings

  • I think rich people have a moral obligation to give money to charity.
  • David lost his right arm in an accident, so now he has an artificial limb.
  • I have mixed feelings about David – I like him, but he’s not very honest.
  • She came from a broken home, and spent half the time living with one parent or the other (a broken home is a family where the parents are no longer together).
  • Human rights is the belief that everyone should have the same rights regardless of any differences between us, whereas civil rights are rights controlled by the government, such as who can vote.
  • The doctor told me to take a deep breath and hold it.
  • He was hit by a car and waited in absolute agony for 2 hours before an ambulance arrived!
  • Alternative medicine (traditional healing methods rather than pharmaceutical drugs) is becoming more popular these days.
  • My grandmother used to remove her false teeth after she had eaten her dinner.

Work, business and industry

  • A key issue is what are we going to do about rising transportation costs?
  • He lost his job, but he was owed in a lot in back pay so he’ll be alright for a while. (back pay is money that is owed for work done in the past)
  • Joint pain is an occupational hazard for many sportspeople.
  • Some people are stuck working dead-end jobs just to pay the bills.
  • The government needs to send a clear message to criminals that crime does not pay! (adding clear means that message must be very easy to understand, not able to be misinterpreted).
  • Goods sold to mass markets can often be of low quality.
  • He lost his job last month, but he’s claiming it was unfair dismissal.
  • 3 of our recent projects have not been as successful as we wanted, and the net result is that we will have to reduce staff numbers.
  • Do you have a rough estimate of this month’s sales figures?

Other collocations using adjectives and nouns

  • It’s common knowledge most politicians do not always tell the truth.
  • He said he’d be here, but he’s so full of empty promises (he doesn’t meet the promises he makes).
  • On Friday, we don’t have to wear a suit and tie to work – we can wear casual clothes.
  • I don’t really like wearing bright colours.
  • The company has a major problem trying to get new staff.
  • They had a brief chat this morning, but I don’t know what they decided.
  • There was a crash on the main highway, so we took the back roads to avoid the traffic.

Now test your skills with this practice test – click the link in the table below to get started.