1G* CELBAN Writing Task 2: How would you correct this? (Medical Collocations)

Updated 2021

Dear Friend

June 10, 2021 at 10 am. Sara, a 14 y/o girl who had been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, came to clinic with her mother. She complained of dizziness and feeling of fatigue.

What are the correct collocations for the sentence in purple? How would you correct it? There are several ways of doing it. Test your knowledge of medical collocations.

What do you see, think, or feel when you read that statement:

She complained of dizziness and feeling of fatigue.

Does it seem ok to you. If so, that is ok. Most people are not aware of the mistakes they make when they create communications: when they speak and/or write. Most non-native communicators are unconsciously incompetent when it comes to collocations. And most people don’t have someone to say, “Hey, this is how to say what you are trying to say.” 

What is a Collocation?

The thing about collocations is that noone really knew what they were until the advent of computers and algorythms. No one could teach them. No one could identify them. We simply knew them. As native speakers we simply knew them. Why? Because there are no rules. Collocations aren’t about grammar. Collocations are about a string of words we put together, and memorize. We are unconsciously competent when it comes to native speakers and collocations.

And, when we use them incorrectly, it sounds wrong or off. Most often, when a non-native speaker is speaking the lack of knowledge of the correct collocation – the correct stringing of words together – is what identifies that individual as a non-native speaker/writer/communicator. 

Meaning, if you want to have clear communication: learn and use collocations correctly. 

Here are some examples:

  • ache throbs
  • be aware of an ache
  • ease the ache
  • feel an ache
  • have an ache
  • And another:

  • be agitated
  • become agitated
  • feel agitated
  • get agitated
  • grow agitated
  • look agitated
  • make [someone] agitated
  • Collocation Errors

    Let’s look at the example again. 

    She complained of dizziness and feeling of fatigue.

    • dizziness is a noun, dizzy is an adjective.
    • fatigue is also a noun as is tiredness, tired is an adjective

    So we can write:

    1. dizziness and fatigue,
    2. dizziness and tiredness, or
    3. dizzy and tired.
    • INCORRECT: dizziness and tired.
    • INCORRECT: dizzy and tiredness.

    Why? Because we can feel dizzy, tired, faint, woozy, weak or unsteady.

    • Dizzy, tired, faint, woozy, weak and steady are all adjectives.
    • Fatigue is a noun.

    Learn one medical collocation a day.

    • One collocation per day is 30 collocations in a month.

    • 30 collocations per month, is 90 collocations in 3 months.

    • 90 collocations in 3 months is 365 collocations in one year.

    Increase your Score: Save both time and money! Explore CELBANPrep University. Learn about the 7 Things You MUST Know about the CELBAN Master Class. 

    8 responses to “1G* CELBAN Writing Task 2: How would you correct this? (Medical Collocations)

    1. Hi Kim. I received my Celban results and didn’t meet the required score. I sent a request of appeal for consideration since I had a complained being distracted during the test. We were given instructions that a video will be played along with an audio for a conversation in the group test. Most of us are bothered and lost when there was no video played at all. No one interrupted the test since we are instructed not to interrupt once the test started. I hope celban would give consideration with this concern.

      • Dear MJ,
        Technology is often a problem during the exam, and it is the one thing you can not control. However, the fact that no one said anything is a problem!
        In Canada nurses can not be meek, shy or quiet. Nurses must be able to advocate for patients and be able to be accountable for their actions. Anyone taking the exam and not demonstrating initiative and confidence, during speaking, is missing the point. Standing up for yourself, and your patient, is important. The CELBAN is an excellent place for you to demonstrate the skills and self worth to do so.
        I know when people are ready for the speaking part of the exam when they have learned to speak do this with strength and confidence. That is what it takes to be a nurse in Canada. So, I hope that you look for opportunities to learn and grow in this area. It is vital to your nursing career!

    2. What about “Patient is complaining of dizziness and fatigue since last 2 days.”

      • Hello N,
        That is a good suggestion.
        Do you know the difference between when to use: since, or for?
        What is the difference between what you wrote and:
        “Patient has been complaining of dizziness and fatigue for the last 2 days.”

    3. She revealed that she had ben experiencing dizziness and fatigue on physical exertion for last cople of days.

      • Nice phrasing, Mandeep. (There are a few spelling/typing mistakes though.)
        I think the medical collocation would be “upon physical exertion”.
        I just started to google this phrase so see what would come up and sure enough there were two options provided: headache upon physical exertion, dizziness upon physical exertion.
        Why do you think it is “upon” rather than “on”?

    4. she complaint dizziness.

      • Dear Param,

        This is a good attempt. There are two options:
        1. She complained of dizziness, or
        2. Her chief complaint was dizziness.
        There are also other options with the word dizzy.
        * She felt dizzy.
        * She complained of feeling dizzy.
        Look up the words dizzy and dizziness and see what you discover.
        By the way, these expressions are medical collocations. It is important to study your medical collocations/expressions/phrases. They are often a weakness for many IENs. Please check out the suggested resources for writing at http://www.celban.biz. They can be purchased new or used or borrowed from a library.
        Take Care,

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