Collocations with WORK

When we think of the word «work«,  we often think of the act of physically laboring in some way. But the word has a range of other meanings as well. We can work at something, for instance, meaning to put effort into it. We can also work out a problem or situation, meaning to find a solution.

One of the best ways to learn the nuances of a word is to learn its collocations. As you know, collocations in English are words that tend to go together, and there are many collocations with work, and by learning them, we can use the word more naturally and accurately. Here are some of the most common collocations with  «work«.


part-time work

Lot’s of students in the UK do some part-time work at the weekends.

full-time work

Is it difficult to find full-time work in your country?

paid work

Many designers complain that people don’t expect them to do paid work.

secretarial/clerical/office work

I’d rather focus on paid work than being a volunteer.

legal work

I let my lawyer take care of all the legal work.

manual work

This job requires quite a bit of manual work.

voluntary/volunteer work

John was considering doing some voluntary work at the weekends.

sb.’s daily work

Everyone used to go to the pub after their daily work.

hard work

Being a teacher these days is hard work.

backbreaking work

After a month of backbreaking work, I was ready to take some days off.

arduous work

The job involved some physically arduous work, especially in the mornings.

heavy work

Being a bricklayer is heavy work – not for everyone!

light work

During my first week at the company I was only given light work to do.

Phrases with WORK

sb.’s line of work

You can’t just take a leave of absence in my line of work.

the work environment

The work environment at the agency was fantastic.

work practices

The manager is constantly trying to implement new work practices.

work ethic

Anyone can find success if they have a strong work ethic.

be out of work

Most of my friends are out of work or stuck in a rut.

a piece of work

My older son is such a piece of work!

have your work cut out (for you)

The hockey team will have their work cut out if they want to succeed in the tournament.

work in progress

The yard is still a work in progress. I guess it will be ready in a month or two.

all work and no play (makes Jack a dull boy)

Take a break, will you? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

make heavy/hard work of sth.

She always made hard work of her assignments by leaving them until the last minute.

make short/light work of sth.

We’ll make light work of this project now that you’ve joined the team.

sth. is in the works

They some plans in the works, but nothing could be made public yet.

a work of art

Stanley’s films are considered important works of art.

get sth. to work

I’ve tried to fix the remote, but I can’t get it to work.

work both ways

We’re willing to negotiate the offer, but it has to work both ways.

work your way to/through sth.

Your parents worked their way through college. Why can’t you do the same?

work sb. hard

The company I work for is infamous for working its employees hard.

work your fingers to the bone

Sheila worked her fingers to the bone renovating her apartment.

work your butt/ass/arse off

Sarah and Jonah work their arses off the whole semester.

it works for me/you/etc.

Work few extra hours today and having tomorrow off? It works for me!

work wonders/miracles

Jane loved her new face cream. It worked wonders on her dry skin!

work sb.’s magic

My dad’s the one who can fix the car by working his magic.

work one’s way up

Lauren managed to work her way up the company in a couple of years.

work sth. out

We need to work out our schedule for tomorrow.

work days/nights/weekends/etc.

I’m so fed up with working nights. I’m exhausted all day!

Prepositions with WORK

at work

Sorry, brother, I’m at work now. I’ll call you later.

work in (a city/area/industry)

Many people who work in London actually live on the outskirts.

work at (an organisation/company)

Rob worked at the same bank for 20 years before getting the axe.

work for (a person/company)

I don’t think I can keep working for my boss any longer.

work as (a profession)

Rachel worked as a teacher until she decided to quit.

work on (a project/task)

The children have been working on a secret project all week.

work under (a person)

Working under Jane hasn’t been easy, but it’s been rewarding.

work towards (a solution/agreement)

The two parties struggled to work towards an agreement.

work against (sth./sb.)

The right-wing party is constantly working against socialist measures.

VERBS + work

start work

He started work as a web developer for an important agency.

look for work/seek work

Beth’s a bit desperate. She’s looking for any kind of work she can do.

find work

It’s impossible to find decent work in this industry.

return to work/go back to work

When do you go back to work?

carry out work

The work was carried out by three office clerks.

do work

I need to go home early. I have some work to do.

set to/get to/get down to work (=start work)

They got down to work early so they could leave sooner.

undertake work

None of the teenagers wanted to undertake voluntary work.

work starts/begins

What time does work begin tomorrow?

work continues

Work continues on most of the house, but the kitchen is finished.

make sth. work

They tried to stay together for the kids, but they couldn’t make it work.

Check this out: Collocations with MAKE

List of collocations with WORK in PDF

If you’re looking for a way to improve your English vocabulary, you should download a list of collocations with work. This list will give you a great bank of words to use in your everyday speech and writing. It can also be helpful for students, as it provides a range of expressions that they can use when talking about work and their jobs. So whether you’re a teacher or a student, make sure to download this list and start using those collocations!

Oh, and don’t forget to keep smiling! 🙂