The collocations presented in this book were mainly selected from those identified as significant by the CANCODE corpus of spoken English, developed at the University of Nottingham in association with Cambridge University Press, and the Cambridge International Corpus of written and spoken English (now known as the Cambridge English Corpus). We also made extensive use of the Cambridge Learner Corpus, a corpus of student language which showed us what kind of collocation errors learners tend to make. These corpora show that there are many thousands of collocations in English.
What is register?
Our use of language changes according to the situation that we are in. If your close friend hosts a party, you could say, ‘Thanks for the party. It was a blast.’ (very informal) However, if your boss was the host, you would probably say, ‘Thanks for the party. I really enjoyed it.’ (neutral) In this example, neutral and very informal are both examples of register.
The register of most language is neutral (it can be used in any situation). However, register can also be formal, informal, characteristic of a certain professional field (e.g. legal, journalistic or media) or specific to official notices and forms.
Our choice of register depends on what we are talking about (business, the news, the neighbours), who we are talking to (friends, strangers, figures of authority) and how we are talking to them (in a letter, in an email, in public, in private). Study the table below and notice how different words and phrases are used to describe the same situation.
Using this book.
Learning about collocations.
Varieties of collocations.
Topics: work and study.
Topics: leisure and lifestyle.
Topics: the modern world.
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