The term “collocation” refers to the way in which words are put together by native speakers in a phrase or sentence. Sometimes a collocation can be explained in terms of the grammar of the language but often there is no obvious explanation and it is simply a matter of idiom or what native speakers say, e.g. I am going to visit Brisbane.The phrase “to visit Brisbane” can be explained grammatically by stating that the verb “to visit” takes a direct object, “Brisbane”.
Often the link in a collocation is made by a preposition, e.g. We arrived at Brisbane Airport at 9:00 am on Friday. On the other hand, native speakers say, We left Melbourne on Saturday and arrived in Brisbane at 8:00 am on Monday morning. There is no obvious reason why we should say “arrived at Brisbane Airport” but “we arrived in Brisbane” other than that is what, idiomatically, native speakers say.
The only way to learn such idioms or idiomatic expressions is not by trying to understand them grammatically but by listening a lot to native speakers, reading a lot and, when you find yourself saying or writing something that is not idiomatic, saying and writing them over and over again and then using them deliberately over and over again until they become a part of your own English language system.
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