In my last post I mentioned lexical resources and I used synonyms for big as an example of how to use a wider range of vocabulary. After I wrote the post, I kept thinking about the word, "colossal." Yeah, that would have been a good one to suggest. Then I started thinking about collocations with colossal because it is one thing to know a good word but it is quite another to know how to use it correctly. So, I basically did something I think every ESL student should do, if he or she doesn't do it already: I googled colossal definition. One thing that dictionaries are good for apart from definitions, is telling you how the word is used. So Merriam Webster gives us "colossal failure," Oxford tells us about "colossal mistakes," and The Free Dictionary gives us "a colossal increase in price."
www.yourdictionary.com is another great site to see how words are used in sentences. So, for all the words you learn, or all the "good words" you know, work with them, see how they are used and jot them down somewhere. Experiment a little. If you are not sure if something you've written is a collocation, google that, too. Who knows, it might just make the difference between a 6 and a 7. And I think we all know that that is colossal. :)