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Academic collocation list

About academic collocation lists

Collocations – pairs of words that occur regularly together – are a natural part of the English language. Knowledge and natural use of collocations are an indication of a person’s general English proficiency.   

Learners often spend hours learning new vocabulary words in isolation, but finding connections between words that are commonly used together can be of greater value.  

Acquiring collocations is an essential part of improving English proficiency and are an area that teachers can focus on within the classroom. The Academic Collocation List (ACL), created by Pearson, contains 2,469 of the most frequent and pedagogically relevant lexical collocations in written academic English.  

The list was compiled from the written curricular component of the Pearson International Corpus of Academic English (PICAE), comprising over 25 million words. 

In highlighting the most important cross-disciplinary collocations, the ACL can help learners increase their collocational competence and thus their proficiency in academic English.

The ACL can also support EAP teachers in their lesson planning and serve as a tool for improving academic language development in their learners.

Download Academic Collocation List (PDF)

Download Academic Collocation List (.xls)


We would like to thank Professor Douglas Biber, Regents’ Professor, Applied Linguistics Northern Arizona University and Bethany Gray, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Department of English Iowa State University, for conducting the computational analysis of the source corpus.

We would like to express our gratitude to Andrew Roberts, computational linguist, for tagging the initial collocation list and conducting the validation study of the Academic Collocation List.

We are also grateful to the members of the expert panel: David Crystal, Honorary Professor of Linguistics, University of Bangor; Geoffrey Leech, Emeritus Professor in English Linguistics, Lancaster University; Diane Schmitt, Senior Lecturer inEFL/TESOL, Nottingham Trent University; Della Summers, Dictionary Consultant; and Professor Lord Randolph Quirk, FBA.

Lastly, we would also like to thank Mike Mayor, Editorial Director, Dictionaries & Reference, Pearson; and Chris Fox, Managing Editor, Pearson, for contributing valuable advice, as well as John H.A.L. De Jong, Senior Vice President, Standards and Quality Office, Pearson, for his support throughout the project.

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