Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Collocations: grasp

Type: Article

Tim Bowen demonstrates his remarkable grasp of collocations.

The noun grasp is defined as ‘the ability to understand something’.

If you understand something particularly well, your grasp of that subject can be described using a range of positive adjectives, including clear, comprehensive, excellent, firm, impressive, remarkable, solid, sound and thorough, as in ‘It was abundantly clear in the interview that she has an excellent grasp of the underlying theory’.

If your understanding is fairly good, you can be said to have a decent, fair or reasonable grasp of a particular subject or topic, as in ‘As a biologist, I’ve got a reasonable grasp of how the human body works’.

Your grasp can also be basic or rudimentary, ‘Several candidates had only a rudimentary grasp of English’.

If, unfortunately, someone’s grasp of a particular area is not good enough, it can be described as inadequate, limited or tenuous, as in ‘The survey showed that a surprising number of people had only a tenuous grasp of the function of percentages’ or ‘Even a limited grasp of economic theory would show that the whole scheme is little short of madness’.

Some people are fortunate enough to have a natural ability to understand things. In this case their grasp is intuitive or instinctive, as in ‘Carlos clearly has an intuitive grasp of the workings of the English language’.

If you don’t have a grasp of something, you can always acquire, develop or get one, as in ‘Candidates will need to acquire a solid grasp of linguistic theory during their first year of study’.

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