Sunday, 10 January 2010


New Year, Fresh Start. The new year is here and it’s an opportunity to have a fresh start - to start something again (such as renewing a gym membership and using it regularly; how about that?).
‘New’ and ‘fresh’ sometimes have the same meanings. Yet, they’re commonly combined with different words:
New baby/location/version/technology/moon/release
Fresh snow/produce/paint/footprints/wound/memory
‘Fresh’ can have additional meanings (other then ‘new’) as well. Below are a few examples of those and their opposites:

fresh vegetables - canned/dried vegetables         fresh water - salty water
fresh breath - bad breath                                       fresh air - stuffy air
fresh bread - day-old/stale bread                          fresh shirt - worn shirt

Collocation refers to the way in which some words regularly occur together. There is no grammatical reason for this so there are no rules to learn. A bit like prepositions, you need to read a lot, expose yourself to as much English as you can, and when recording vocabulary you should make sure you write down collocations whenever you can.
In this post we're going to revise the collocations with the verbs studied in your book: set, raise and win.
  • Set is often cited as the English word with the most different meanings and, unsurprisingly, it's got a number of collocations. You can set concrete things like alarm clocks, watches, thermostats, for example. You can set a date or a time and you can also set a price or a rate for something (as in The Central Bank is responsible for setting interest rates). Set is also used with words referring to rules or standards such as conditions, guidelines, limits and criteria (as in Opposition parties have set conditions for peace negotiations to begin) and you can also set an example or set a precedent (as in Her behaviour sets a very bad example or This ruling will set a legal precedent). Set can be used with certain nouns to establish the way in which something is done, e.g. set a tone, a pattern, a fashion or a trend (Her opening speech set the tone for the whole conference). You can also set a table or set a record. In terms of the future, you can set yourself (or someone else) a goal, a challenge, an objective or a task. From the unfortunate student’s point of view, teachers can set homework, set essays and, worst of all, set exams.
  • Raise (not to be confused with its intransitive equivalent rise) has a lot of collocations, some of which are easy to understand such as raise your hand, raise a flag, raise a salary or raise your glass, while others are more idiomatic, e.g. raise a smile or raise hell (as in 'His jokes failed to raise a smile' or make people laugh, and 'They raised hell when they were told the hotel had no record of their booking', or got very angry and made a scene). In the sense of ‘create’, raise can collocate with a number of abstract nouns, for example raise doubts, raise fears, raise a question, raise hopes and raise expectations (as in 'We don’t want to raise your hopes at this early stage' or 'Doubts have been raised about the viability of the project'). If you raise your eyebrows, you show you are surprised at something. Raising your voice indicates that you are speaking in a loud voice, probably because you are angry. You can also raise the alarm if you want to draw people's attention to a problem. You can raise children o raise a family. .
  • Win-Earn-Gain. The three of them relate to getting or achiving something, but the nouns they collocate with are very different. Win: You can win a competition or a sporting event. For this achievement you might win a prize, a cup or a medal. You can also win a contract, win the right to do something, win support or approval. Earn: Apart from earning money or earning a salary, you can also earn your living in order to pay for everything you need. Gain: You can gain weight or speed. You can also gain an advantage as in "Some people try to gain an advantage by using their personal contacts). Gain also goes with acces, admission and entry. Other nouns used with gain are gain experience, gain time. And the good news is that there is one word that collocates with all three verbs: RESPECT. You can win respect, gain respect or earn respect, all of which meaning getting respect out of your efforts or behaviour.
Now make a comment with at least two examples for each of the three verbs.


  1. Set:
    Michael Phelps set a precedent by winnig 8 gold medals in the Beijing Olympic Games.

    The teacher set an exam for the next day.

    The student had his hand raised for a long time.

    The Sergeant raised his voice, because the soldiers weren't paying attention.

    He won the prise because he was the cleverest.

    Usain Bolt won three gold medals, he is the fastest athlete in the world.

  2. Juanmi said..
    Usain Bolt set a new world record at the Beijing Olympics.

    My mother set a list to be able to go to the supermarket.

    I convince my boss to raise a salary for all the workers.

    Ibiza raise a precedent in summer holidays, for all people that like a party.

    My football team won a competition in brunete two years ago, these year didn´t win anothing.

    I win a war in the computer game.

  3. Set:
    John set his alarm clock at seven to go to school the next day.

    The E.U. set some conditions for entry of countries into their organism.

    The climbers raised a flag to reach the mountaintop.

    The enemy countries reached an agreement to end the war.

    The politician won more support than his rival in the elections.

    This Christmas I haven't won anything in the lottery.

  4. Set:
    My father sets the rules in my home.

    The teacher has set the final day to do our homework.

    The girl raised her voice because all the people were shouting.

    The student didn't raise his hand to answer the question.

    The kid won two euros betting with his friends.

    The boy won his friend in a videogame.

    1. The girl raised.....shouting==> better to use "lift up" instead of raise because shouting means that pepole's voice is way more than 'raised' , in this sense, there needs to be a balance of verbs intensity in the sentence to recreate the appropriate context. for this reason, it's more logial to use lift because it is an "intrinsic force verb" that goes beyong the limit of raise in his meaning of increasing the level of one's voice for a necessity of enabling people to hear you simply because they unintentionally can't.

  5. Set:
    The USA is trying to set the calm in Haiti

    I tried to set a confortable conversation

    All was going bad, but finally I raised the mood of the people

    The man raised the flag when the football player was hurt

    My favourite basketball player won a very important prize in 1993

    Her friend didn't win the last music festival

  6. Adri Fernández, sorry.

  7. Set:
    - I set the table before dinner.
    - My teacher sets an hour for talking with my parents.

    - The decision of the president raised a lot of issues.
    - My mother raised her voice because I broke a dish.

    - He's trainning hard because he wants to win the competition.
    - That singer won two awards in the last gala.

  8. Well done, Guilherme. Watch out: prize and not prise.
    Look at your mitakes, Juanmi: My mother WROTE DOWN a list to be able to go to the supermarket/ I convinceD my boss to raise THE salary to all the workers/ Ibiza SET A PRECEDENT (not raise)/ ... THIS YEAR THEY HAVEN'T WON ANY (these year didn´t win anothing)/ I WON the computer game war

  9. Set:

    - If he could reach that height, he could break a record, and set a new one.
    - The date for the wedding isn't set yet

    - The english teacher raised her voice because diana didn't do her homeworks.
    - I raised my hand to raise a question when the cmc teacher, raised her voice to tell me off.

    - Carlos Sainz has tried to win the rally dakar for many years and finally he won it.
    - This season Barcelona F.C. will not win any title, because madrid will beat them at bernabeu

  10. Notice your mistakes, Alvaro
    USA, not EU: the usa set some conditions for the ENTRANCE...
    The climbers raised a flag WHEN THEY reached ...
    Fran G.: The boy BEAT his friend in the videogame.
    Adrian, careful with the spelling of coMfortable.
    Well done, Fran A.
    Late, as usual, Javier, but better late than never: homework, not homeworks. I would have said: the date for the wedding hasn't been set yet, although your choice is also correct. As for the rest, very good.
    Thanks to all that took part in the activity.

  11. When you use other people's material, you should give them credit. I was looking for examples of collocations with "win" and "gain" and found Tim Bowen's work at, from whom you've copied -- although the typos are yours.

    It doesn't take much time to cite your sources. It's the honourable things to do.

  12. By the way, Alvaro is correct to use "entry" and not "entrance". Bowen has put "entry", and you copied it as such above. When your students ask you why it's correct when you say or write something, but wrong when they do it, what do you tell them?