Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Collocations: cause

Type: Reference material

Tim Bowen causes a stir with collocates of the verb to cause.

The Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners defines the verb to cause thus: “to make something happen, usually something bad”. If you think about cause and effect, it is possible to envisage numerous situations when the effect is a positive one. For example, pay rise (cause) and happy staff (effect).

Interestingly, however, the verb to cause almost always collocates with negative effects. The most common examples are cause damage, cause concern, cause distress, cause embarrassment, cause harm, cause suffering, cause trouble and cause problems. In the legal world you can be arrested for causing a disturbance and sent to prison for causing death by dangerous driving.

At the risk of causing controversy, one could suggest that there are hardly any collocations with positive effects. One example might be "The 5-0 victory over their bitterest rivals caused great delight among City supporters". It is also possible to cause pleasure, cause amusement and cause happiness. Then we are back with the negative ones. One might think that cause euphoria is positive but it often appears in warnings on pharmaceutical products: "This drug may cause euphoria, muscle seizure, hypertension and coma”.

Staying with the pharmaceutical theme, perhaps the most superfluous advice ever given appeared on the packaging for a particular brand of sleeping pill: WARNING - may cause drowsiness.

Rate this resource

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

You must be signed in to rate.

  • Share

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Powered by Webstructure.NET

Access denied popup