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How to use a dictionary in English

It is needed to use dictionary to learn every language. English learners must know how to use dictionary to save their time and learn English soon and easily. So I am going to give you some points about how to use a dictionary in English.

How to use a dictionary in English
How to use a dictionary in English

Dictionary is a resource (like a book, e-book or maybe in an electronic form) that contains lists of words in a language (typically in alphabetical order) and gives their meaning, or equivalent words in one language or in different languages. It also provide some information about pronunciation, origin, usage, and …. so it is possible to get all these information such as different meanings, collocations, examples of use and standard pronunciation and much more by searching through it.

There are some parts which you can see in most dictionaries and these parts help you to get some information about every single word. If you want to know what is this information exactly, and how to use a dictionary in English read the following points and guidelines.

Most of English dictionaries contain the following information so notice them to know how to use a dictionary in English:

1. Meaning and definition of words
2. Phonetic alphabet
3. Stress marks
4. The grammar of the new word
5. Examples (usually by some sentences)
6. Formal or informal part of speech
7. Pictures of words (for some special words)

Before you choose a dictionary for yourself, you need to be sure that you have chosen the right one for yourself based on your needs, and to know all different types of information the dictionary contains and how to use it correctly.

A good dictionary is not just the one with a list of isolated words with their meanings or translations. Actually an English word has no definite meaning in isolation, and the meaning only becomes apparent when the word is used in a context. So a good dictionary must mention all possible meanings of a word and use some examples for all these different meanings while it should be based on the analysis of words in real texts and communication.

There are some tips below about using dictionary:

  • Find the best dictionary for yourself based on your needs. It is better to use a normal English dictionary and not a bilingual one, because you can learn English words better and sooner. Some word in one language can’t be translated into another language just and it causes some problems for your English learning process. While using a learners dictionary is easy and not to be complicated.
  • All words are arranged by alphabetical order in every dictionary, so knowing how to spell a word would make it so easier to find a special word which you are looking for.
  • Learn new words you need, not all of them because it is impossible and it takes a lot of time and energy.
  • Read the introduction of the dictionary for knowing how to use that dictionary. It explains how entries and information in the dictionary are arranged. Reading this part in the beginning of the dictionary will give you an information on how to find words and explanations to use the information you are looking for.
  • Learn the dictionaries’ abbreviations. Most of dictionaries have some abbreviations in the definitions for a word. For example “adj.” stands for “adjective”. You need to know these abbreviations to understand the definitions for every word. These kind of dictionaries which use abbreviations introduce them in the introduction.
  • Learn the guides of pronunciation. Without understanding the pronunciation guide, it can be difficult to pronounce the word which you are looking for. So you must know about the symbols of pronunciation to make pronunciation a lot easier for you.
  • Electronic dictionaries are the best choice for ESL students and English learners. They hold a lot of data in a small space. You can find native-language equivalents and explanations, as well as pronunciation, definitions, and example sentences in English. Paper dictionaries are hard to transport while electrical and software ones are easy to transport and most of them have audio pronunciation.
  • English learners would be better to use an updated dictionary for newly words which are entered to a language. So it’s a good idea to upgrade your dictionary or use an up-to-date dictionary so that you have access to the latest new words that are added to the dictionary.
  • Most of traditional dictionaries have online editions which can help ESL students and English learners. So if you have an access to internet, online dictionaries can help you so much. They contain very updated information for every word.
  • Many countries have their own native dictionaries that might be more helpful than using other dictionaries; such as Oxford dictionary in England, Webster’s dictionary in the US, and Macquarie dictionary in Australia.

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