by Liz Walter
Many of us have had to live with unprecedented restrictions on our lives in recent months. Our freedom to travel and meet up with friends and family have been limited in ways we couldn’t have imagined possible just a few months ago. This post looks at the language of rules and regulations, and in particular their collocations (the words that associate with them).
The government has brought in rules to limit the use of plastic straws.
Most countries impose regulations on their pharmaceutical companies.
Calls to remove restrictions on travel are growing.
We didn’t know when lockdown would be lifted.
The state is planning to ease rules around how some pensions are funded.
We are hoping for the slight relaxation of these guidelines.
There are several strong adjective collocations for nouns connected to rules or regulations. Strict or stringent rules are very definite and people must obey them. If we describe rules as harsh, we mean that they are very strict and may cause difficulties for people who have to obey them:
There are strict rules surrounding overseas recruitment.
The emergency allowed the government to impose unusually harsh restrictions.
There were so many petty regulations at school.
Police claim these lower speed limits are unenforceable.
Camping is allowed here as long as you follow the rules.
It is important to observe all the regulations on health and safety.
The most common collocation for not obeying rules is to break the rules. When people do this in an obvious way that shows they don’t care, we say that they flout them. When people bend or stretch rules, they obey them to a certain extent but not completely:
Drivers who break the rules are issued with a penalty charge.
The college stretched the rules a bit to give her a place.
Regulations on air pollution were rarely enforced.
The police were there to uphold the rule of law.
I hope these collocations will be useful. I can’t resist ending with the well-known saying that ‘Rules are made to be broken’.