November 7, 2021: English in Review: Verbs and Collocations

How Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter Realized His Dream: an Opera

A couple of months ago, I posted about “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” a fabulous new opera featuring music by Terence Blanchard, which recently debuted at the Metropolitan Opera.

This week in the NY Times, there’s more exciting news about another new opera: “Iphigenia.” The work features the collaboration of Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding. The article’s headline gives us some real-life English language to study!

Reporter Giovanni Russonello writes: How Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter Realized His Dream: an Opera. Note the use of the verb “realize,” used here in the regular past tense form, “realized.” In English, this verb has two meanings (examples are from the Longman Dictionary for English Language Learners.

1. To know and understand something, or suddenly begin to understand it

Use realize + (that), or realize + who/what/how; DON’T use realize + about or realize + of

I suddenly realized (that) the boy was crying.

Do you realize you’re an hour late?

I was so tired I didn’t realize what I was saying.

I realized how happy I was playing music so I decided to pursue a career.

2. To achieve something you were hoping to achieve. Russonello’s headline uses this definition​

Use realize + noun

Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter realized his dream -an opera!

Now boost your English! Learn more collocations with “realize.” Collocations are words that often go together in English. The headline about “Iphigenia” uses one of the most common collocations: Realize a dream

You could this collocation in a question, such as: Do you have a dream you hope to realize?

Here are two more collocations:

· realize + full potential: Has she realized her full potential?

· realize + worst fears: His worst fears were realized when the oven stopped working on Thanksgiving Day – with the turkey in it.

Notice that we often use this last collocation in a passive construction: the subject (worst fears) is the recipient of the verb’s action (were realized).

Questions to think about and discuss:

Do you know someone who realized a dream recently? What happened?

What would it look like to realize your full potential?

Have you ever had a nightmare in which your worst fears were realized?

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