Collocations and Verb Phrases

How can you understand collocations and verb phrases in English? Why do you make the bed, but do the dishes? This confuses many English language students. It is very important for learners to understand common collocations and verb phrases. Everyday English is made up of thousands of these, many of which native speakers may not even realize they are using.

For example: Why do English speakers eat fast food, but not quick food? This is common collocation in English. Fast and food are just always used together or collocate.

Are there rules to know when to use certain words together? Not really! That’s the interesting thing about English! Collocations and verb phrases can vary, as well. You may find them to be different in different areas. Think about how in the United States you grab some take out food, but in Britain, it’s take away food.

To properly understand collocations and verb phrases, a learner simply needs to learn them as a whole unit, like a vocabulary word. This can be done by memorization, but as I suggest, learning by listening and then using helps your brain get used to what “sounds right”. By exposure to the use of them in naturally occurring conversation, music, movies, T.V, and even in literature, you can learn them the way a native speaker learns even the trickiest collocations and verb phrases.

Idioms are closely related to collocations and verb phrases. Idioms differ because they are sayings, or made up of a longer phrase of words. Collocations and verb phrases, although occasionally longer, are usually just two words. The individual words may or may not contribute to the actual meaning. In general, collocations and verb phrases are easier to figure out than idioms based on their individual words.

So take a break, and watch the YouTube blog video I’ve made on this subject!

Click here!


Interjections and Bears in Yosemite National Park!

Recently, I have been on vacation to see some of the popular places in California. My wife and I went on a two week long road trip to see the Eastern Sierras, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, Napa Valley and the Pacific Coast Highway. We kept a blog about our adventures at

While on my trip, I decided to take the opportunity to film a blog video. I had a last minute change of topic, when we encountered a bear family on our hike. I decided that talking about the use of interjections, or exclamatory remarks, would be appropriate. My fellow hikers and I all used various interjections to express our surprise and even fear at seeing the bears. Bears can be dangerous to hikers, especially if a mother bear has cubs. Fortunately we were able to give the bears enough space, and they didn’t mind us sharing the trail with them. Check out my blog video to find out more about using interjections in everyday speech and writing.

6 Keys to Fluency: 6. Don’t Get Discouraged

This is the final post in my six-part series about achieving fluency in English.  In this video I talk about what naturally happens when you learn a language, you plateau.  This point is when the majority of language-learners give up, because they get discouraged.  Don’t let that happen to you!  Discouragement is like a poison that slowly eats away at your desire to learn.  Keep that desire strong with an incentive and look for progress you are still making, even if it is imperceptible.  (Watch the video to see these words in bold defined.)

Keep learning, and as always, thanks for watching and reading!  I’m working on an exciting new project with Details to come about my new course that helps you get beyond the basics and master the English language. Don’t forget, if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.  I love to hear from students! My students are my incentive for teaching!

6 Keys to Fluency: 4. Think in English

Constantly going back to your native language in your mind to translate can be a huge barrier to becoming fluent.  In this video blog post, I will discuss how you can learn to think in English in 4 steps.  In this way, you can better train your brain to not rely on translating words as you speak, write or listen to them.  While mental translation may be necessary when first learning a language, it becomes a distraction as you progress beyond the initial stages and can prevent you from mastering one.

6 Keys to Fluency: 3. Learn Phrases

In this video blog post, I will discuss how learning individual words instead of words in phrases makes achieving fluency more difficult.  When you come across a new word, try to learn it within a phrase.  By doing this, you are learning how to use the word and will likely remember the word better.  Learning commonly used phrases in conversation, will help you to speak more comfortably as well.

Try this:  Listen to or read a conversation about a simple subject between 2 native speakers.  How do phrases help you to better understand the words they choose to use?  By analyzing short everyday conversations like this, and then learning phrases as they are used by speakers, you can become more fluent.  Below is a sample dialogue using the word ‘fine’ and the word ‘set’:

Ricky:  Hi Mickey, how are you?

Mickey: I’m fine, how have you been?

Ricky:  I’m ok.  How are things going at work?

Mickey:  No problems, everything is fine and dandy.  How’s your wife?

Ricky:  She is off visiting her sister in New York, so I’m left home alone.

Mickey:  We should get together and grab a bite to eat.  I know a great place downtown that serves the best beer and burgers.

Ricky:  That would be great, let’s set a date.  Burgers are my favorite, and nothing goes better with a burger than a nice cold beer.

Mickey:  Let’s do it Friday after work.  I get off at 6.

Ricky:  I’ll meet you at your office  at 6:15, and then we can take the train downtown.

Mickey:  Great!  See you then!

6 Keys to Fluency: 1. Study in the Correct Way

This series of blog posts supplemented with videos is all about improving fluency.  This first video will help you understand what it means to be fluent and discuss the first key to fluency, Study in the Correct Way.

Some things to consider about your studies:

  • Is my instructor certified?  Are they a native speaker with a good accent?
  • Do I use online sources I am sure are accurate and correct?
  • Am I having to try to later unlearn bad language habits?
  • How do I learn best?  An audio learning learns by listening, a visual learner learns by watching or reading and a tactile-kinesthetic learner learns by doing an action while learning.

Some ideas for studying creatively:

  • Listen to and watch native speakers on TV and in movies
  • Read interesting stories, magazines or books in English
  • Listen to English language music or podcasts while exercising or doing chores
  • Draw pictures of things you are learning as well as write words
  • Write music, poetry, short stories or even jokes in English
  • Play games that help you learn English

Happy learning!  The next post will discuss another key to fluency.

Vocabulary Course Release & Special Discount

I am excited to announce that my new course is finally live on the UDEMY website! My special new course is vocabulary-centered.  It features 100 important vocabulary words that every English speaker should know, whether you have been speaking English all of your life or are an English second language learner.  Besides just presenting and teaching 100 words, this course also features live video lectures on learning vocabulary intuitively, word structure and word patterns. The course curriculum has downloadable materials, online resources, and interactive quizzes. So in reality, this course doesn’t just teach you 100 words, it teaches you how to keep learning new words.

In designing and producing this course, my intention was to make it affordable and accessible (one of the reasons I like using UDEMY).  The regular price of the course is $29, however I am pleased to announce a special discount for my Aaron’s English Page fans.  Use this link: to get the course at LESS THAN HALF PRICE for $14.  Share this code with your friends, but keep in mind that the quantity is limited and it is only available for a limited time.

vocab power 100
Vocabulary Power 100

One of the reasons I decided to make this course was because I noticed a need for quality instruction that did not focus on boring memorization of vocabulary words.  It is very difficulty to improve your English, or any language, that way.  In order to actually be able to make new words a part of your speaking and writing, they must be part of an internal word bank in your brain that can be accessed quickly, without thinking too hard about it.  In my teaching of English, I use an intuitive methodology.  That really just means learning by using.  I have found this is the easiest, quickest and all around most effective way of speaking fluently, learning grammar and usage or vocabulary (even if it is for a language you have been speaking all of your life).  Because everyone is has their own unique learning style, a multi-approached method of presenting new information targets different areas of learning to make a mental connection.

Try this:  The next time you learn a new word, try an intuitive method.  Here are few ideas:

  • Listen to or read a word in its natural setting– examine the context.
  • Write the new word down, and make a sentence using it correctly.
  • Say the new word– focus on correct pronunciation and then use it in conversation.
  • Find a picture or an object that illustrates the word.
  • Make a mental note every time you hear, see or use the new word.