It happens to you and you feel embarrassed. Occasionally after you’ve said something to a teacher or friend they’ve probably corrected you and said, “That just doesn’t sound right in English.” It’s very frustrating to hear that response, especially when you don’t receive ANY advice to correct your mistake. You’re left wondering, why was it wrong to say that? The answer is because of collocation. Collocations are groups of words in a sequence that are commonly found together.
For example, many people say they like “strong coffee,” meaning coffee that is bold and flavorful. A native English speaker would likely never say I want mighty coffee (unless they were joking!).
Another example is “part of culture.” Someone might ask you which part of your culture is the best or what part of your culture you dislike the most. However, they won’t say which fragment of your culture is the best, which piece of your culture is terrible.
One more example will probably be helpful. People always say that they made a mistake. They don’t say, I did a mistake.
So what can you do with this information? Understand that you shouldn’t be embarrassed when you make mistakes. Errors are opportunities to learn and correct. And while correcting, you can remember that what sounds right is often correct simply because it is used frequently in English. You can get used to hearing and using collocations and memorize them just as you can memorize Slang and Idioms to advance your fluency.
Remember - You’re not failing – you’re learning.
If you want more help with pronunciation, you need to read What is Word Stress next. It will give you lots of information and tips that will improve your pronunciation!
I’m happy to link to your collocation dictionary! Just write me @ my email and show me where my link is on your site!