In part 2 of this series, we look at how every language has words that standardly go together in stock phrases, also called "collocations." These are word combinations that are preferred by native speakers, and though there are other words that you could use to express the same thing, those other words might sound awkward or odd. For instance, you would usually say "a strong cup of tea." A "powerful cup of tea" or a "robust cup of tea" may have a very similar meaning, they sound odd to the ears of a native speaker. On the positive side, such word pairings sound very "normal," but they could also be criticized as being clichés when they are overused.
Progress is usually made. This phrase sounds a little odd at first, as if "progress" were something that could be "made" in a factory, but what it means is that something or someone is improving:
You've made a little progress.Play Caption
I'm making great progress with the parents already.
Caption 16, Movie Trailers - The Boss BabyPlay Caption
Money is often described as hard-earned, meaning that it was not inherited or acquired easily otherwise, but that someone had to work hard and long for it.
Don't hand over any more of your hard-earned money to these crooks.
Caption 22, Laurel & Hardy - Jitterbugs - Part 4Play Caption
People aren't lining up to trade their hard-earned money for your unnecessary product.
Captions 67-68, Nature Preservation - The Story of Bottled Water - Part 1Play Caption
When you want to take shower and use very little time in doing so, you take a quick shower. The meaning is the same as taking a "fast shower" or a "brief shower," but the standard expression uses the adjective "quick":
We have learned just for a quick shower, you just put the nozzle up there.
Captions 26-27, An apartment - in JapanPlay Caption
You stand there and take a quick shower.
Caption 27, An apartment - in JapanPlay Caption
Go to this page and see some other examples of standard English word combinations. Try to generally pay attention to the way words are combined by native English speakers and try to learn these phrases, since many are particularly unique to the language, such as the English phrase "to make up your mind" about something. See if you can find some examples of that phrase on Yabla English.