English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

To prevent myself from asking an obvious, silly question multiple times: What are the English language tools you found most useful?

I found Corpus Concordance English extremely useful for looking up collocations.

Please, one tool per answer.

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by RegDwigнt Jul 25 '12 at 19:36

Questions on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange are expected to relate to English language and usage within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Mod note: This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. Ordinarily, we would lock such a question; however, because allowing the answers to be edited and voted on greatly enhances its value, we have chosen not to do so. Please do not vote to reopen or delete this question; such actions will be reversed. – waiwai933 Sep 17 '12 at 0:54
More organized list on meta: List of general references. – Andrew Grimm Jan 6 '13 at 7:34
Hmm. Some of the awesomest questions are closed. This one is linked to from the flippin FAQ. What's the trend? Will migration ease? Will the close-gnomes mellow or militarize? Will "closed as off topic" become a badge of honor? – BobStein-VisiBone Mar 15 '13 at 19:13
@BobStein-VisiBone the chemotherapy style moderators have pervaded almost every inch of the stack exchanges - meaning that for someone looking to previously asked questions; there's little value to be had in anything less than 2 years old. Such moderators find more value in adhering to rules than producing useful resources. This question is a useful resource - one which, I'm sure, many moderators should feel should be deleted to discourage other rule breakers. Too much chemo will kill you, after all. – Stumbler Apr 17 '15 at 14:42
This chrome plugin is very useful. It's a good way to collect words. FlashRead : chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/flashread/… – ferhat celik Jan 26 at 6:35

42 Answers 42

Microsoft Word's spelling checker

But be careful with its grammar checker: it’s often wrong.

share|improve this answer
I don't know how many times this has saved me from writing "teh..." – kitukwfyer Sep 11 '10 at 14:15
Being from a field of science with specialized language, it is a challenge to use, even if I train it on my own computer – David LeBauer Dec 2 '10 at 15:12
Be careful! The grammar checker is a useful tool to spot slips, but do not treat it as an authority. – Pitarou Feb 6 '12 at 15:18

I have an old, well-worn, pocket-sized copy of Roget's Thesaurus on my desk at work (I'm a software engineer) that I find invaluable when writing documentation and emails.

share|improve this answer

Google Books is useful for searching for real usage and etymology of words and phrases, and for antecedents.

However, care must be taken with metadata, especially when only a snippet is shown: occasionally the book was published later than the the year Google claims it was, and sometimes they accidentally include multiple books for each record.

Therefore it's important to double check the date: scroll up to confirm the real date for "full view" books, and for preview/"snippet view" verify with another source (such as the Internet Archive or Project Gutenberg).

share|improve this answer

The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, from the publishers of the OED, is one of my favorite dictionaries.

It has entries written using the Oxford 3000 keywords, so they're easy to understand, suitable for learners and experts alike. Each entry includes British and American English audio and an IPA pronunciation key. The example sentences and usage notes are great.

For focusing on American English, the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary is also now available, which includes essentially the same information and features as the American English parts of the OALD entries.

share|improve this answer

I'm an English as a Second/Foreign Language teacher, and I like to use the Cambridge Dictionaries Online.

It has different levels of definitions from Learner's (which used to be basic or beginner) to Advanced Learner's.

I find it's not only helpful for me when I need to find a way to define a word for a student, but it also helps me understand words I may have never seen before or don't often use. They also have some mobile apps for English students, and a blog that posts about new words in English like lactivism and lets you comment about them.

share|improve this answer


An acronym generator generates acronyms from sets of words.

share|improve this answer

The Internet Archive's Text Archive has old books and journals in many formats, including plain text and scanned. Useful for confirming things only available as snippets in Google Books.

share|improve this answer

Word Dynamo

Word Dynamo from Dictionary.com is a nice way to learn new vocabulary. It has flashcard sets of a variety of different topics.

share|improve this answer

The Usenet archive at Google Groups is useful for searching for Internet slang dating back to 1981.

Be careful as there's no way to search only Usenet, and some of the non-Usenet results are misdated, but it can sometimes be useful.

share|improve this answer
If you can't search 'only' Usenet, then how can you use it as a resource except through google, and then only if you're lucky enough to get results from Usenet? – Mitch Feb 28 '12 at 14:09
@Mitch: Most of the older results are only Usenet, and you can tell from the summary page if the results are from alt.fan.this or comp.that. – Hugo Feb 28 '12 at 14:27

manythings.org is an online "dictionary" which can help you memorize words which are listed according to their frequency.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.