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

Sometime, I am not sure if I use a specific word correctly. I would like to get some sample sentences to learn from.

So, is there a online sample sentence database/search engine?


locked by Kit Z. Fox 2 days ago

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. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: help center.

Related to linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/4232/… – giorgio79 Oct 31 '15 at 7:56
up vote 16 down vote accepted

You could try using a corpus. For example, a search for copper in the British National Corpus returns 50 random sentences -- simply refresh the page to see another random sample:



Lots of dictionaries offer sample phrases. Merriam-Webster, Wiktionary, and the Free Online Dictionary come to mind. Complete sentences are usually provided to put expressions in context.

And then, of course, there is Google. It allows you to search for sample sentences by using the operators * (wildcard) and ~ (similar word or synonym). For example, if you are not sure which preposition to use in the phrase "he has not covered himself __ glory", you can use the search string "not ~covered * glory".


Use a corpus to help you. You can search for sentences with specific words, limit results by formality level (spoken, magazine, newspaper, fiction, academic), search by word class, and find common collocates for words, along with many other features. Here are some corpora:


I like netspeak more.

You can search for usages of a single word or a combination of words. It gives you sample sentences and tells you how often each word is used, so you can see what is the most common way to use a word. I was introduced to this website in a writing course about academic writing and I've been using it ever since.


Vocabulary.com's dictionary provides usage examples of a word from popular magazines and newspapers. Their dictionary service is blazing fast.

Wordnik.com also provides meanings for words as well as sample sentences for those words


You could also check out http://www.freescrabbledictionary.com/api/ They provide an api as well.


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