Semantic preference and semantic prosody are two distinct yet interdependent collocational meanings. According to Sinclair (1996, 1998) and Stubbs
(2001c), semantic prosody is a further level of abstraction of the relationship between lexical units: collocation (the relationship between a node and individual words), colligation (the relationship between a node and grammatical categories), semantic preference (semantic sets of collocates) and semantic prosody (affective meanings of a given node with its typical collocates). Partington (2004: 151) notes that semantic preference and semantic prosody have different operating scopes: the former relates the node item to another item from a particular semantic set whereas the latter can
affect wider stretches of text. Semantic preference can be viewed as a feature of the collocates while semantic prosody is a feature of the node word. On the other hand, the two also interact. While semantic prosody ‘dictates the general environment which constrains the preferential choices of the node item’, semantic preference ‘contributes powerfully’ to building semantic prosody (Partington 2004: 151).
It might be said that semantic prosody relates to the relationship between the node word and its collocates while semantic preference is the relationship among collocates of a node word.