A question about collocation

This page is the answer to a site visitor's question about collocation.


A reader of this page about collocation wrote in reference to my comment in the original article on collocation that "We say very pleased and very tiny, but we do not say very delighted or very huge."

He noted that he had seen the expressions very delighted and very huge in some teaching materials. This is how I responded:


Thank you for your email. I think it would have been better for me to write "do not usually say" very huge, rather than "cannot say" very huge. Of course, speakers of English can choose to say what ever they want to say and that's why you may have seen the expression in another place.

If you want to test out expressions like these, use the Cobuild Concordancer at: http://www.cobuild.collins.co.uk/form.html   If you type in very huge, you get no responses at all from their huge database of authentic language. If on the other hand you type in very big, you get hundreds of examples.

I think the point I should have made more clearly is that certain words go together much more strongly than others. So if I saw or heard the expression very huge, it would certainly cause me to stop and think "that doesn't sound right', whereas I wouldn't have the same reaction if I saw very big.

Thanks for your interest in my website!