Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Collocations: fragile

Type: Article

Have you ever been in a fragile state? Tim Bowen delicately explores collocates of fragile.

If something is described as fragile, it is easy to break or damage or it is not strong or healthy. Certain aspects of the environment can be described as fragile, e.g. ecology, ecosystem, habitat and the word environment itself, as in 'The fragile environment of the Danube delta is under constant threat’ or ‘Deforestation is causing serious damage to fragile mountain ecosystems’.

In terms of conflict, fragile also collocates with words that represent a break in hostilities, such as peace, truce and ceasefire, as in ‘International mediation has enabled a fragile peace to return to the region’. It can also be used to describe the situation of a particular country, collocating with democracy and economy as in ‘The economic situation is hitting the country's fragile economy and there is no wealth to fall back on'.

A fragile relationship is one that is likely to break down at any moment and can be applied to countries as in 'The fragile relationship between India and Pakistan …’ or to people, as in ‘The play deals with the fragile relationship between a father and his step-daughter’. 

Individuals may suffer from a fragile ego or fragile confidence, as in 'A person with low self-esteem and a fragile ego has an overwhelming need to be the centre of attention'. In a sporting context, teams and individual sportsmen or women may also suffer from fragile confidence, as in 'They are desperately in need of a win as their confidence is rather fragile at the moment'.

It is also possible for someone to be in a fragile state, as in ‘After the all-night party, he’s in rather a fragile state this morning’.

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