Advice on english monolingual dictionnary
Thread poster: Yolande Haneder (X)

Yolande Haneder (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:48
German to French
+ ...
Dec 15, 2006


When writing in English, I find it sometimes difficult to get the feeling in which situation to apply things like "of, to or for" and what is the slight difference of meaning when you have the choice.

Do you know of a good reference book where I can look at what follows which verb or adjective and the slight (or not so slight) difference of meaning when applying one or the other term?

Thank you in advance,



Kobe Vander Beken  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:48
English to Dutch
+ ...
Combinatory dictionary Dec 15, 2006

The BBI, Dictionary of English word combinations can help you with this... It doesn't explain though. It may give you a hint so that you know which adjective, preposition etc... you can use. An advanced level of English is required since there are no explanations.


Maria Eugenia Roca Rodriguez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oxford dictionary Dec 15, 2006


Another good choice is the Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English. It's recommended for FCE, CAE, and CPE exams.

It's slightly different from BBI. They are very good dictionaries, and I use them both.


Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:48
English to German
+ ...
No book but ... Dec 15, 2006

I like working with Wordnet.

It is an online resource, a large lexical database of English, provided by Princeton University, NJ. It offers terms embedded in a "network of meaningfully related words and concepts" and includes many examples.

You can do research online or download the current version and work off-line.

What is Wordnet:

Look up words here:

Oops, the server seems to be down just now. Was there five minutes ago and I hope they'll be back soon.icon_smile.gif

[Bearbeitet am 2006-12-15 13:38]


GoodWords  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
Two books that are just what you're looking for Dec 15, 2006

Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.
An entire book devoted to exactly the type of question you want answered. I highly recommend this one. There is hardly a "doubt" you can think of in English usage that isn't resolved here.

Longman Language Activator Sort of an English learner's version of the BBI that "Kobe_vb" suggested. Very good treatment of the words included, and explained in easy-to-understand language.


Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
Chicago Manual of Style (now online) Dec 15, 2006

This Manual is widely used in the US by book publishers, and Chapter 5, on usage, contains a section on prepositions. Here's a snippet copied from the on-line version to give you an idea:

5.208 Shifts in idiom

While prepositional idioms often give nonnative speakers of English nightmares, even native speakers sometimes need to double-check them. Often the language undergoes some shifting. There may be a difference between traditional literary usage (oblivious of) and prevailing contemporary usage (oblivious to). etc. etc.

This chapter includes a list of words, explaining their meaning when different prepostions are used. For ex.,

admit (vb.) (“acknowledge”): none (not to) (transitive)

admit (vb.) (“let in”): to, into

admit (vb.) (“allow”): of

The list is long, it isn't exhaustive, but it might very helpful all the same. The on-line subscription costs $25, and that's for the entire (almost 1000-page) book...



Yolande Haneder (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:48
German to French
+ ...
Thank you! Dec 15, 2006

Claudia, your links are going be be very useful when I am working *from* English because in this case it is helping much to understand the source text (not that I don't understand, I am also looking at such dictionaries for the French language to check the terminology I am using).

On the long term, I am going to have a thought about the other dictionaries, I also may buy a CD or a hard copy of the Chicago manual of style plus another one. I like paper for two reasons:
1. I am not dependent of a third party (for instance I don't have to have to switch on my computer or to rely on a source on Internet which can disappear at any time).
2. Sometimes when looking for inspiration, I like to turn the pages of a book to see what i can have. In case of keyword search, I would have to know first what I want to write.

Have a nice day/evening,



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Advice on english monolingual dictionnary

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