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Compound Words, Binomials, and Collocations (Basic)



Compound Words

A compound word is a word which is made up of two or more words that have a single unit of meaning. For example: fireworks, basketball, full moon, etc. 


What are Binomials?

Binomials are expressions with two words joined by a conjunction (connecting word).For example:

  • rock and roll
  • more or less

The order of the words in the expression cannot be interchanged; for example, we can't say 'roll and rock' or 'less or more'. 


Meaning of the Given Binomial

Let's go through the examples of a few common binomials.
Neat and tidy means clean, organized, tidy not messy or untidy.
Example 1: Her house is always very neat and tidy: there's never anything out of place.

Odds and ends mean various small, unimportant, inexpensive items.
Example 2: 
I need to clean out my desk; the drawers are full of odds and ends.


What are collocations?

A collocation is a group of words that usually go together. For example, in English, we usually say 'heavy rain'. It's grammatically correct to say 'strong rain' or 'big rain', but both of these sound completely strange. A native English speaker would never say 'big rain'.

Example 1
"This is strong coffee". 

The collocation here is strong and coffee. But what happens if we replace strong with a synonym like powerful? Can we say powerful coffee?

To a native speaker powerful coffee sounds strange and incorrect. So we need to know which words will work together to make word combinations that sound correct.