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Is this word frequently used?

This is a question that my students often ask. I do my best to answer based upon my instincts but it's actually a really difficult question for any English teacher to answer. Luckily there are lots of resources that can provide a more reliable answer than me.

Here are the resources that I use and recommend:

Simple and quick resources

Google Ngrams, Skell search engine and a good dictionary can all be used to find out information about words such as relative frequency.

More advanced resources

To get detailed information about how words are used you or your teacher can look at a relevant corpus. Corpora (the singular is corpus) are collections of language. Some corpora are based on spoken language, others on written language. Some include examples of British English whereas others are records of American English. There are even corpora based on learner's English. The problem is that they can be a bit tricky to use and only some of them are freely available. For many English learners, resources such as Skell and Ngrams will probably be good enough.

Do you want to find out more about these resources? If so click on the links below.

To find out more about Skell, click here or here.

To find out more about Ngrams, click here.

To find out which dictionary I like, click here.


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