Use of collocation grids

I am reading an extremely interesting book entitled The words you need by B. Rudzka, J. Channel, Y. Putseys and P. Ostyn. What arrested my attention is the use of collocation grids. I found that it is not correct to say wealthy existence or wealthy country.

Is this really true?
I think that it is not very difficult to find examples of those phrases on the Internet.

Hello, Cyborg

This is the case of collocations.Collocation is the way words combine in a language to produce natural-sounding speech and writing. Please see below:

1- Strong tea (corret) but
Mighty tea (incorrect)

2- Weak tea (correct) but
Feeble tea (incorrect)

You may use the adjective affluent or rich with country but not wealthy.

I hope this helps.


Sorry Tom,

Wealthy country is fine


Collocations are probabilities, Cyborg, they are not legislated. Although rich country is more likely than wealthy country, I suspect that both are used with some frequency. Let’s check with Ms Google, shall we?–

781,000 English pages for “rich country”
165,000 English pages for “rich nation”
140,000 English pages for “wealthy country”
84,300 English pages for “wealthy nation”
27,900 English pages for “affluent country”.
13,800 English pages for “affluent nation”

As you can see, all these collocations are in use, and frequency is on a gradient. There are no rules about, for instance, which adjectives can be used with which nouns; people simply tend to hear them one way and repeat them-- it makes communication quicker when we speak in chunks rather than single words.

I see what you mean, but what is the point of using a book that misleads you by saying that a wealthy country is not a good collocation? Perhaps my initial approach was erroneous, as I wanted to have a guide that would help me understand the intricacies of using collocations and that would be 100% right.

By the way, do you know any advanced book about collocations, one that would make my English sound natural?

Collocations are legion, and books are only human. You must take the author’s opinion-- if one is offered-- with a grain of salt. I have seen no ‘perfect’ collocation book, but any one that is based on a large authentic corpus and lists only likelihoods without making strict statements would be good. I myself have the BBI Dictionary of English Word Combinations near at hand, but do not swear by it.

There is no ‘100% right’. Word phrases come and go, and speakers frequently amend them to create an effect of language creativity for purposes of humour or art or shock value. Collocation is a slippery business at best, and the only way through the muddle is experience, to my mind.

Thank you for you comment. I will bear it in mind,

Dear Mr.Micawber

Could you please shed some light on it?