Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Collocations: clear

Type: Article

Tim Bowen clears the way for the verb clear and its collocates.

The verb to clear is used in a number of fixed expressions, with the general meaning of remove, although in a few cases it has a different meaning.

If you clear a debt, you pay back all the money that you owe. If you clear an obstacle or a hurdle, you deal with it successfully, as in 'The company has cleared the main obstacle to concluding the sale'. You can also clear a backlog, as in 'Extra staff have been brought in to clear the backlog caused by the postal strike'.

If you clear your desk, you remove everything from it because you are leaving your job. This can also be used as a euphemism for being fired, as in ‘I’ve heard he will be clearing his desk fairly soon'.

If you clear the way, the ground or the decks, you do what needs to be done so that something else can happen without problems, as in ‘The government has cleared the decks for an early general election' or 'The law cleared the way for polytechnics to become universities'.

If you have a difficult relationship with someone because of an argument or a disagreement, you might find it necessary to clear the air (discuss the problem in order to resolve it), as in ‘I think it’s time we cleared the air, don’t you?’

Finally, clear can also go with immigration, customs or passport control to mean to obtain permission to enter a country or take something into a country after being checked by officials, as in ‘Delays are often experienced by passengers waiting to clear passport control’.

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