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Language Log Language Log is a collaborative blog about language, most of whose contributors are academic linguists. It is one of the most popular blogs about linguistics, and there are often posts that directly address questions asked here. For example, there were a number of informative posts on singular they I linked to in this answer, and Mark ...
The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) This is a great tool for finding out how words are actually used in different registers of English, ranging from informal spoken English to formal academic written English. In this answer I used it to find out if the word prepone was used with any regularity in American English (it is not). In this answer, ...
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a very valuable and rich resource. When you look up a word, for example, favorite, it provides a comprehensive account of use, history, synonyms, etc. Note that unlike many free resources in this list, the OED requires a monthly or yearly subscription. However, your library may subscribe and this would allow you to ...
Wiktionary It's great for a lot more than just definitions. It's usually the first place I go for looking up etymology, pronunciation, and often derivations/cognates of words. The cross-connectedness of information in Wiktionary is really what sets it apart and makes it an excellent (if sometimes imperfect) resource.
Google Not Google Books, Language Tools, or even word trends. I mean the search engine. If I am curious about a sentence or spelling, I search for it. If the search returns interesting results similar to what I'm writing about, the sentence was good. If it returns badly-spelled pages about unrelated topics, the sentence is no good.
Google Books NGram Viewer Google Books NGram Viewer displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books over the selected years.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage This book, which can be read for free using Google Books, has a lot of useful usage information that is based on research into how words are actually used (as opposed to how some usage writer would like them to be used). Their commentary was helpful to me in this answer regarding less vs. fewer. It was also ...
British National Corpus The British National Corpus (BNC) is a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent a wide cross-section of current British English, both spoken and written. Also searchable with a less elaborate interface here.
Urban Dictionary An invaluable and up-to-date resource for looking up slang and other words that are often absent in conventional dictionaries.
Forvo This is a site for hearing pronunciations of words recorded by “ordinary” people. Many words have multiple recordings in different dialects, and each recording has votes on whether others think it is good or correct.
This can be achieved with a touch of Google-fu. We want to limit our Google search to search only the site, http://www.etymonline.com/. From reading the url structure of each result, we notice that definitions all contain ?term=, so can we refine the search with these bits of info: site:etymonline.com inurl:term Then, we add a space and the term we are ...
OneLook Reverse Dictionary If you are looking for a word to express a given meaning, this is the place to go. For example, searching for "soul guide afterlife" returns "psychopomp", and searching for "fear long words" returns "hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia".
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: http://bnc.bl.uk/saraWeb.php?qy=copper
Beware broad-brush approaches, even if you find a dictionary offering the count - uncount classification. Some - perhaps many - nouns are non-count in some senses and count in others. Coffee is a good example - its basic sense is uncount: Coffee is a drink made by infusing the ground beans of Coffea arabica etc. Too much coffee can be bad for you. ...
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 ...
One major issue with family names is that they can be pronounced however the family decides. Some pronounce the names as they were in the original language, some Anglicize the pronunciation, some Anglicize the spelling then adjust the pronunciation to fit, etc. A good example of this is Stephen Colbert. He pronounces his last name koʊlˈbɛər while his ...
Well, the companion to Dictionary.com is Thesaurus.com.
I find Carter and McCarthy's 2006 Cambridge Grammar of English very useful. The great advantage is that it is based on an analysis of real language (the Cambridge International Corpus), which means that its insights are evidence-based, not intuition. Any reference grammars which are not based on corpus evidence are not worth buying.
The book that taught me what little (and how little) I know about English grammar is Huddleston and Pullum's Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. You can read chapter 1 and chapter 2 (PDF) free online. Those are introductory chapters. For a taste of the meat of the book, see this answer regarding the word yesterday, which is basically just a roundup of ...
I do not know of any online tools for doing reverse pronunciation to word search. However, if you are handy with searching text files, you can download the CMU Pronouncing Dictionary. It does not use IPA, but there is a key to the phonetic encoding that dictionary uses (called ARPAbet). You can then search the text file for pronunciations you are interested ...
Most English dictionaries used and published in the United States don't include that information, just as they don't provide IPA-based phonemic transcription. However, dictionaries published in the UK and elsewhere sometimes do, especially dictionaries for English learners. One American online exception is Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, which ...
Wiktionary maintains descendant lists, but they are far from complete. See e.g.: cornu (Latin) wódr̥ (PIE) watōr (Proto-Germanic)
Use a professionally created corpus, like the Corpus of Contemporary American English. You get much more reliable data and examples, plus you can do sophisticated part-of-speech searches.
What's another word for...? I have a minor addiction to looking up synonyms. My condition led to the creation of a Google gadget which I will now shamelessly plug in the Google Gadget directory.
Word Net It's a lexical database of English. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are grouped into sets of cognitive synonyms (synsets), each expressing a distinct concept. These "synsets" are interlinked. It's more rigorous than a normal Thesaurus, in that it tries to "pin down" every unique meaning of a word rather than just listing a bunch of synonyms ...
Wordnik Wordnik.com is an online dictionary and language resource that provides dictionary and thesaurus content, some of it based on print dictionaries such as the Century Dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary, WordNet, and GCIDE. Wordnik has collected a corpus of billions of words which it uses to display example sentences, allowing it to ...
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