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Unexpected uses of an online dictionary 2

Even experienced academic writers and native speakers can find useful information in learner’s dictionaries for checking and improving their academic writing. They can be used as an additional resource after you have selected your base dictionary (see Unexpected uses of an online dictionary 1).

It is worth investigating the information available in the learner’s dictionaries. They include basic dictionary functions along with other functions listed below. Below are links to the Oxford and Cambridge learner’s dictionaries. British English is used by most European publishers.  

Phrases, prepositions used with particular words, collocations (Oxford and Cambridge Learner’s Dictionaries)

When you look up a word there is information about the above including some information on collocations, i.e. a word or phrase that is often used with another word or phrase. The Oxford Collocations Dictionary is a paid service.

Idioms (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary) 

A list of idioms can be found if you scroll down when looking up a word.

Example sentences (Oxford and Cambridge Learner’s Dictionaries)

Verb forms (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary) 

This is very useful for looking up confusing verb forms or checking whether a verb form is British or North American usage.

Language bank (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary) 

This provides related words. For example, the language bank for the word ‘effect’ gives expressions and sample sentences for the expressions As a consequence and As a result. 

Confusing words (Oxford and Cambridge Learner’s Dictionaries) 

For example ‘effective’ or ‘efficient’. When you look up a word, you can find this under Which word in Oxford and Grammar in Cambridge. Cambridge also has an Easily confused words category in its Grammar section. 

Thesaurus and related words (Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary) 

When you look up a word, this information is provided.

Grammar and usage (Oxford Online Dictionary and Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary) 

Practical English usage is a paid service in the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. Free grammar information is available in the Oxford Online Dictionary.

The Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary has a free and very useful grammar and usage section divided into categories. 

Sources: Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary; Oxford Learner’s Dictionary


Pamela Cotte

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