Relationships collocations

Relationships collocations


meet a friends

I’m meeting a friend of mine for lunch at the Carlton Hotel later today.

remain friends

In spite of the bitter argument they had, they remain the best of friends.

become friends

Mike and I became friends at university.

visit a friend

I’m afraid Ken’s not here tonight. He’s visiting friends.

bring a friend

Can I bring a friend to the party?

make friends

Henry’s the kind of person who doesn’t find it easy to make friends.

lose touch with your friends

I’ve lost touch with most of my school friends.

approve of your friends

My parents don’t approve of my friends! They say they’re a bad influence.

depend on your friends

In times of crisis, you know you can depend on your best friends.

fall out with your friends

They used to be good friends, but they’ve fallen out recently – over money!

just good friends

She says that she and George aren’t going out. They’re just good friends.

your best friend

Heather was my best friend at school. We did everything together.

an old friend

Ivor and I are old friends. We lived next door to each other as kids.

a close friend

He knows a lot of people, but only one or two that he’d call close friends.

a friend from work

On a Saturday I usually play football with some friends from work.

a mutual friend

My wife and I were introduced to each other by a mutual friend.

your circle of friends

Carol is a very sociable person. She has a wide circle of friends.

a friend of a friend

I met Helen through a friend of a friend.

family and friends

Roberta managed to recover with the help of her family and friends.


Note these expressions:

  • Hilda’s a friend of mine.
  • At our school reunion party we drank a toast to absent friends.
  • What a terrible way to treat a friend!
  • We usually have friends around on a Saturday night for a meal.
  • Since going to university, I’ve grown apart from many of my old school friends. (developed different interests)



have an enemy

He’s such a likable person. He doesn’t seem to have an enemy in the world.

make enemies

The manager is arrogant. He’s made a lot of enemies since joining the company.

face your enemy

I think it’s better to face your enemies than to hide or run away from them.

a former enemy

The two leaders signed the peace agreement. Then the former enemies shook hands for the cameras.

a bitter enemy

The sisters hate each other. They became bitter enemies after one of them stole the other’s boyfriend.

an old enemy

My father and his neighbor are old enemies. They’ve been fighting for years over the hedge that separates their gardens.

your sworn enemy

I’ll never forget the sight of the President shaking hands with his sworn enemy.

a dangerous enemy

Make sure you get on with the manager’s secretary. She’s a dangerous enemy to have around here!

attack your enemy

The soldiers waited until nightfall so that they could attack the enemy under cover of darkness.

defeat your enemy

The battle didn’t last long. We easily defeated the enemy with our superior weapons.

kill your enemy

We were under orders not to kill the enemy, but to take prisoners.

the enemy advances/retreats

The enemy advanced 10 km into our territory, but we eventually forced them to retreat.


Note these expressions:

  • Male drivers are their own worst enemies. They drive too fast, and too close to the car in front. No wonder they have so many accidents!
  • Being stuck in a lift with 20 people was an absolute nightmare. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

In war, the opposite of ‘enemy’ is ‘ally’.

  • The Allies in the Second World War included Russia, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Britain.



save a marriage

The couple are trying to save their marriage for the sake of the children.

marriages break down

She has been very depressed since her marriage broke down.

rush into marriage

Your mum and I feel that you’re far too young to rush into marriage.

disapprove of a marriage

My parents disapprove of my marriage. They think Pete’s not good enough for me.

believe in marriage

She said she didn’t believe, but now she’s on her third husband!

a previous marriage

Robert has three children – one with Lorna and two from a previous marriage.

a happy marriage

I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Carol and Keith a long and happy marriage.

an arranged marriage

There are advantages to arranged marriages, but I’d rather choose my own partner.

the perfect marriage

They seemed to have the perfect marriage, so their divorce is a real surprise.

related by marriage

We are related by marriage. he is my brother’s father-in-law.

sex before marriage

My mother doesn’t believe in sex before marriage.

a son by previous marriage

Bill has two daughters by a previous marriage.

at the marriage of

We request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of our daughter Sonja.

the break-up of a marriage

She moved to another town after the break-up of her marriage.

the basis of a marriage

In my opinion, trust in each other is the basis of a successful marriage.

the announcement of a marriage

The announcement of her marriage appeared in The Times.

25 years of marriage

She separated from her husband after 25 years of marriage.

offers of marriage

She’s received several offers of marriage and rejected them all.


Note the following ways of saying that a marriage is not going well:

  • I think their marriage is going through a bad patch.
  • Their marriage is on the rock. I can’t see it lasting much longer.
  • I think the children have put a tremendous strain on the marriage.

Note this expression:

  • We’ve had a few problems in our marriage, but we’re both determined to make a go of it.



get a divorce

I think it’s far too easy to get a divorce nowadays. I think it’s the reason there are so many one-parent families in this country.

go through a divorce

I watched my parents go through a long, painful, and messy divorce. It was a difficult time for my brother and me.

end in divorce

It’s a sad fact that one in every three marriages today ends in divorce. And you wonder how many others are unhappy.

grant a divorce

The Church is worried by the increasing number of failed marriages. Over 70,000 divorces were granted last year.

want a divorce

Jane wants a divorce from her husband, but he won’t agree to one. It’s a horrible situation to be in.

their divorce has come through

Bill was telling me that his divorce came through last week. He says he’s now a free man and has no intention of ever getting married again!

a divorce settlement

As part of their divorce settlement, Paul agreed to let his wife keep the house.

the divorce rate

There’s been a dramatic rise in the divorce rate in the last twenty years.

divorce proceedings

My wife has threatened to start divorce proceedings if I continue working till midnight every day.

a divorce lawyer

With a wife like Miranda, what you need is a good divorce lawyer! She’ll try to get the kids, the house, the car, and at least £100,000 a year!


Note the kind of things that happen after a divorce:

  • They remained friends after their divorce.
  • After divorce many women revert to their maiden name.

Note the expression:

  • The fact that he admitted having an affair was sufficient grounds for divorce.



fall in love

I fell in love with one of my students, and we were married within a month.

feel love

He married her to please his parents. I don’t think he feels any love for her.

need love

We all know that young children need lots of love and affection.

declare your love

At the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom declared their love for each other.

send your love

Uncle Charlie sends his love and hopes you’ll feel better soon.

your love grows

We’re still very much in love. In fact, our love has grown stronger over the years.

a love affair

He’s having a love affair at work. I hope his wife finds out and leaves him.

a love song

Wonderful Tonight is a classic love song written by Eric Clapton.

love letters

I came across some old love letters at the back of a drawer in my bedroom.

your love life

The love life of the young prince is never out of the papers!

a love child

It’s no secret that he fathered a love child with a young actress some years ago.

madly in love

They can’t take their eyes off each other. They’re madly in love.

love at first sight

When I saw her across the room, it was love at first sight!

no love lost between them

There’s no love lost between them. They can’t stand each other.

undying love

On their wedding day, they pledged undying love for each other.

a mother’s love

Nothing can be stronger than a mother’s love for her child.

true love

His latest partner’s called Sue. Do you think it’s true love this time?


‘Unrequited love’ is when you love someone, but they do not return your love.

A ‘love-hate relationship’ is when feeling frequently change from love to hate. We also call this a ‘stormy relationship’.

We talk about ‘having a great love of things’ but not of people:

  • My father had a great love of music.

To ‘make love’ is to have sex with someone.

‘Brotherly love’ is the love between two brothers.

Note this common expression:

  • Carol and Jim are obviously head over heels in love!



have respect

As a manager, he’s a disaster because he doesn’t have the respect of his staff. If the company wants to succeed, they will need to replace him.

lose respect

It’s important that new teachers gain the respect of their students.

> Yeah, the job becomes impossible if you lose the respect of the class.

treat with respect

The driver shouldn’t have shouted at the old lady in that way. Everyone has a right to be treated with respect.

show respect

I think young people today need to show more respect to the older generation. Offering your seat on a bus to an old person is just one example.

gain respect

The Prime Minister has gained the respect of many leaders all around the world for his attempts to prevent war between India and Pakistan.

grudging respect

The new player is not liked, but he’s very talented and so he’s won the grudging respect of the team.

a mutual respect

A successful marriage Is based not only in love but also on a mutual respect for each other.

the greatest respect

Although I don’t agree with his theories, I have the greatest respect for his ideas.

a health respect

Don’t worry, I know what my opponent is capable of and I won’t underestimate him. I have a healthy respect for his abilities.


Note the expressions we use to mean ‘showing respect’ towards somebody:

  • No alcohol was served at the dinner, out of respect for Muslim customs.
  • A minute’s silence was observed as a mark of respect for the victims of the disaster.

Note how we describe disrespect:

  • Many of these young men are out of control. They show a complete lack of respect for authority.

Note the following formal expression:

  • Sir, withal due respect, I think that you are wrong.

Note this expression:

  • I’ve got a lot of respect for my gran. She lost her husband when she was young and still managed to give her family a decent upbringing.



have a family

Do you have a family? I’ve got two boys and a girl.

come from a (large) family

I come from a large family. I have five brothers and three sisters.

bring up / raise a family

Many women today successfully combine a career with bringing up a family.

start a family

Are they planning to start a family? I know Jenny loves children.

support a family

People in low-income jobs often find it hard to support their families.

a close family

My family has always been a very close. We ring each other and get together a lot.

your immediate family

Only Diana’s immediate family and closest friends were invited to the wedding.

a respectable family

He comes from a very respectable family. His father is a judge.

your extended family

As a boy, I was surrounded by my extended family. Most of my aunts and uncles lived in the same village.

the whole family

The whole family had colds last week!

a single-parent family

Some people think that children brought up by both parents are less likely to get into trouble than children from single-parent families.

a friend of the family

No, he’s not a relation. He’s just a friend of the family – somebody we’ve known for years.

a member of the family

She is the sole surviving member of her family.

opposition from your family

Despite opposition from her family, Sue married a man 40 years older than myself.

an addition to the family

I hear you’re expecting a small addition to the family. When’s the baby due?

the interests of the family

Good parents always put the interests of the family first.

the baby of the family / the brains of the family

Jerry may be the baby of the family, but he’s also the brains of the family. He’s just finished his degree at Cambridge University.


Note the following family + noun phrases:

  • I know nothing about his family background.
  • I have a family history of heart disease.
  • If you would like advice on contraception, contact your local family planning clinic.
  • With three young kids, I can’t really join the club because of family commitments.

Note this expression:

  • Diabetes tends to run in the family. So, if your mother is diabetic, you might develop it later in life.

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