Collocations prove to be a fruitful area for Tim Bowen this week, as he offers up this fruitful discussion.

Fruitful is defined as ‘producing good results’ and fruitless as ‘producing no good results’. Both adjectives can be used with the verb prove, as in ‘Research into metal and metal/oxide nanostructures has proved particularly fruitful’, and ‘Several hours of waiting proved fruitless, so I headed back home’.

Fruitful can be used to describe a relationship, a partnership or a collaboration, as in ‘The two musicians began a very fruitful collaboration two years ago when their first album was released’.

Dialogues, discussions and exchanges can also be fruitful, as in ‘The meeting was a great success and led to a fruitful exchange of ideas’ or ‘Both sides later described the discussions as fruitful’.

It can also be applied to various ways of doing something or finding something out in the form of words such as approach, area, avenue, source, as well as the word way itself, as in ‘This promises to be a fruitful area of future research’ or ‘This is another fruitful avenue for the voluntary sector to explore’.

The word fruitless is used with words such as attempt, effort, task and search, as in ‘Fruitless attempts were made to attach a line to the sinking vessel’ and ‘Our search for a suitable flat in the area ultimately proved fruitless’.

It can also apply to journeys or trips, as in ‘After several fruitless trips to the company’s head office, we were finally forced to give up our claim for compensation’.