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Do you want to know how to use a word?

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

In a recent blog post I talked about Ngrams and how this was a useful tool to gauge (get an idea of) the frequency of a word.

Hopefully you've already tested Ngrams and it's helped you to choose the right word. But maybe you want a different resource, something that gives you lots of examples of how a word is used in real life. You've looked at your dictionary and this was helpful but now you want more examples.

Skell - word sketch and more

Have no fear, Skell is here!

Imagine you want to talk about your day being ruined by a sudden storm ...................... but don't know which word to use, Skell might be able to help. Do we talk about storms rising, arising, blowing in, raging, appearing? Check out the entry to get some ideas!

I won't tell you any more about Skell as the website is so easy to use. Just click on the link above and search for some words.

Some more resources

Websites like Skell are a useful resource to help us learn how to use a new word but we still need more because it takes a long time for the brain to learn something new. Learning a new word in class is just the starting point of your friendship with this new word. Over time, you'll meet it again and again and will get to know it better. Occasionally you'll learn a new word in class and the following day you'll bump into again on the pages of a book. You'll be really happy to see it again and will probably be able to remember what your learned the previous day. Sometimes though we might never see the new word again, or it will be many months before we come across it again.

A teacher can't tell you everything you need to know about a new word. Instead, we give you a few tips, tell you which resources are useful for vocabulary learning, and help you to identify the words that you want to learn.

Which other resources do you use to help you learn how words are used?

Here are some of my favourites

  • Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • Skell

  • Deepl

  • A native speaker (this is perhaps the best!!)

So how do we talk about storms?

P.S. The question about the storm was a genuine query from a student. I think I'd be most likely to say something along the following lines:

"There was a dreadful storm on the day of our wedding"


"Everyone had to take shelter from the storm"


"A storm suddenly swept in/ appeared/ blew in"


"Storm clouds suddenly appeared on the horizon and within minutes we were in the middle of the storm"

Click here to read more about learning vocabulary or here to read about some general tips for learning a language.


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