Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Collocations: dilemma

Type: Article

Never fear! Tim Bowen’s here to resolve your collocation dilemmas.

‘The government is facing a dilemma as rising unemployment places an increasing strain on pension funding’, dilemma being defined as a situation in which you have to make a difficult decision.

Dilemmas are rarely described as mild or minor but rather as acute, painful or terrible, as in ‘He was faced with a terrible dilemma – cut the rope and save himself or perish along with his fellow-climber’.

A frequent collocation with dilemma is the word real, as in ‘The spread of armed conflict presents us with a real dilemma’. Dilemmas can be fundamental, classic or age-old, as in ‘It’s the age-old dilemma. What should you do if you find a wallet full of money in the street?’

There are various types of dilemma. They may be legal, moral, philosophical or ethical, as in ‘The question of assisted suicide presents us with an ethical dilemma that many people find impossible to resolve’ or ‘The government finds itself in a legal dilemma with no obvious solution for the foreseeable future’.

Apart from facing a dilemma, one may also confront it, grapple with it or wrestle with it, as in ‘Like many mothers, she is wrestling with the dilemma of whether to go back to work or stay at home and bring up her young baby’.

Dilemmas may be created, posed or presented, as in ‘The security situation in the country presents a moral dilemma for those aid agencies still trying to operate there’.

Finally, dilemmas can be addressed, overcome, tackled or resolved, as in ‘She was finally able to resolve the dilemma by taking a part-time job’.

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