Tagged: collocation

Are the benefits beneficial?

­čśŽ Constructing impressive buildings benefits more for┬ávisitors than local people.

flag-of-indonesia┬áThis is another word that gets partly lost in translation. Let’s look at some possible improvements.

Benefit –┬áverb

Constructing impressive buildings benefits visitors more than local people.

The verb ‘benefit’ is transitive, no preposition. Notice the position of ‘more’ in the comparison!

Beneficial – adjective

Constructing impressive buildings is more beneficial for visitors than for local people.

The adjective ‘beneficial’ may be followed by a preposition phrase – usually ‘beneficial + for’ (except “When attempting to lose weight it is more beneficial to exercise than to diet.”).

Without a comparative you might also write:

Constructing impressive buildings is beneficial.

Benefit – noun

The benefits to visitors of constructing impressive buildings are greater than the benefits to local people.

The noun ‘benefit’ – when applied to people (visitors) – is followed by ‘to‘.
When applied to things (constructing impressive buildings) it is followed by ‘of‘.


The Impact Song

I’ve covered this collocation problem in a previous post. Students’ first language drives them to produce┬á‘bring an impact to/for’.

I thought that by writing a song featuring the correct collocation, they might be brainwashed into getting it right next time.

I’ll get back to you when I’ve seen some writing ‘post-song’!


Ways that have to be done

­čśŽ There are more ways that have to be done to halt the spread of HIV.

‘Ways’ followed by ‘to + V1’ is quite common, as in the expression “There’s more than one way┬áto kill a cat.”

However, ‘way’ (noun) does not collocate in English with ‘do’ (verb). You cannot ‘do’ a ‘way’. This is possible in some languages (flag-of-indonesia), but not in English.

Another problem here is the redundant use of ‘there are’ (see previous post).

In English you might write:

­čÖé More action needs to be taken to halt the spread of HIV.


­čÖé┬áMore solutions┬áneeds to be considered┬áto halt the spread of HIV.

Remember that strong collocation like this will get you a higher score for vocabulary in IELTS speaking and writing. You will find references to collocation in the IELTS public band descriptors.


Compensating for ‘compensate’

­čśŽ The revenues resulting from the tax amnesty could compensate the temporary loss of revenues deriving┬áfrom the transition.

‘Compensate’ offers┬áthree possibilities:

  1. compensate someone (a person who is a victim because of an unfortunate circumstance beyond their control)
  2. compensate for something (an unfortunate situation that was beyond someone’s control)
  3. compensate someone for something

The use of compensate in the opening example implies that a ‘loss’ is a person – “..compensate the temporary loss of revenues..”! This is clearly impossible. However we can easily correct the sentence:

­čÖé The revenues resulting from the tax amnesty could compensate for the temporary loss of revenues deriving from the transition.

Or, alternatively:

­čÖé The revenues resulting from the tax amnesty could compensate people for┬áthe temporary loss of revenues deriving from the transition.

You also need to be careful when using the noun compensation:

  1. Something (possibly money) is compensation for something else (possibly an action that caused the loss of money)
  2. Someone seeks/receives compensation for something (a person seeks or receives, possibly money, in return for money lost through no fault of their own)

Finally, many of the examples at forbetterenglish.com show ‘compensate’ used in passive voice.

Compensation often comes in the form of money, but if you have experience of other kinds of compensation, please comment below!


Trends can make you ill

­čśŽ Australians who disagreed or remained neutral had an upward trend during the period.

I mentioned in a previous post that ‘trend’ is a dangerous word and perhaps best avoided because:

  1. it is usually redundant
  2. it carries with it unusual collocation that does not translate easily from other languages

The wrong collocation can cause meaning to change. In the example above, ‘upward trend’ sounds like some kind of illness, which is something that we ‘have’, for example “I had a cold last week.” We might imagine the following conversation:

You: Sorry I missed our appointment yesterday. I had an upward trend.
Your friend: Sorry to hear that. I hope you’re feeling better!


Once again, it’s┬ápossible, and usually preferable to describe a trend without using the word ‘trend’. Avoid it!


Oh no! I’ve lost my weight!

­čśŽ┬áWhen I was living in the desert I lost my weight.

flag-of-indonesia Indonesians for some reason like to use the possessive here. But there are problems with this. If you include the possessive then it sounds as though you lost something that you own:


Of course it is possible to own a ‘weight’ (countable thing┬á– definition 1, items 2a and 2b), but not many people are owners of a single ‘weight’, and it’s unlikely anybody would worry about losing one!


If you’ve been living in a desert then it’s possible that you have experienced weight loss (weight uncountable┬á– definition 2), and so if┬áyou’re talking about body weight, you need:

­čÖé When I was living in the desert I lost weight.


Lazy to read

­čśŽ I know that reading is important, but Indonesian people are lazy to read.

flag-of-indonesia┬áThis is an almost direct translation of “malas baca”, right?

In most English speaking countries, people who read are usually educated and┬áinterested in the world, and these are seen as positive characteristics. Meanwhile laziness is thought to be a very negative characteristic. Nobody in an English speaking country would openly admit to being ‘lazy to read’ – they would feel too embarrassed.

In any case ‘lazy to + V1’ is bad collocation. In a situation when laziness is more appropriate, the native English speaker might say:

­čÖé I can’t be bothered to go jogging this morning. Anyway it’s raining.

If you are ready to admit your laziness when it comes to reading, then you might say:

­čÖé I know that reading is important, but Indonesian people can’t be bothered to read.

But I urge you to think again about reading. It’s an essential skill┬áin IELTS and in university. Practice it and it will become easier and more enjoyable!