Verb Collocations

Collocations are words that naturally go together in a language. While native English speakers instinctively know that “fast food” sounds right but “quick food” does not, English learners may not be able to recognize why some words work well together while others with a similar meaning do not.

Learning common collocations is similar to learning phrasal verbs. The more exposure, the better! So how do we teach collocations? We don’t want students to simply have to memorize huge lists of them. It may help to break down collocations into manageable, related sets of 10, as we did below. Also, be sure to provide plenty of practice and review.

This blog post will be the first in a series about common collocations. We’ll start with lists and examples of verb collocations for these common verbs: have, get, take, come, and go.

Collocations with Have

  • have breakfast/lunch/dinner/a snack
  • have a cup of coffee/tea
  • have an idea
  • have a party
  • have a good time
  • have a baby
  • have a headache
  • have a fight/argument
  • have a problem
  • have an accident

Collocations with Get

  • get a job
  • get married
  • get divorced
  • get together
  • get drunk
  • get home
  • get in trouble
  • get dressed
  • get lost
  • get ready

Collocations with Take

  • take a seat
  • take a while
  • take a photo
  • take a rain check
  • take a taxi
  • take a shower/bath
  • take a chance
  • take a break
  • take a look
  • take care

Collocations with Come

  • come close
  • come first
  • come on time
  • come prepared
  • come to a conclusion
  • come to a decision
  • come to an agreement
  • come to an end
  • come up with something
  • come back

Collocations with Go

  • go home
  • go downtown
  • go to bed
  • go to school
  • go to work
  • go to a meeting
  • go on a trip
  • go for a run
  • go for a coffee
  • go back


Here are a few examples from the list above. For more examples, meanings, and practice with all of the previous collocations, see our Grammar Practice Worksheets lesson on Verb Collocations.

  • It’s been a long day. I can’t wait to go home, take a shower, and go to bed.
  • We’ve just come to a decision about our next trip. Both of us are having a good time here in Mexico, so we’ll come back to this resort again next year.
  • I have a problem with my computer. Can you take a look at it today?
  • They had another big fight. I’m worried they’ll get divorced. I’d hate to see their marriage come to an end.
  • I had a cup of coffee with an old friend yesterday. Since I last saw her, she got married, got a new job, and had a baby, so we had a lot to catch up on!


Note #1

The following sets are common collocations that are often interchangeable:

  • have a shower/bath and take a shower/bath
  • have a look and take a look
  • have a break and take a break

Note #2

There is a difference in usage between come back and go back. We use come back when we’re at the place we’re talking about. We use go back when we’re not at the place we’re talking about.

  • I can’t believe it’s your last day here in Toronto! I hope you can come back soon.
  • We loved our trip to Hawaii last month. We plan to go back next spring.


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