How to Use a Dictionary

How to Use a DictionaryLesson OneWhy do we use a dictionary?A dictionary is a book which contains information about words. A dictionary contains an enormous amount of useful information that helps you in speaking, reading and writing. There are two kinds of dictionaries: monolingual and bilingual. Although bilingual dictionaries are required for translation purposes, students of foreign languages are advised to use monolingual ones.This topic tells you about the different types of information available in a dictionary. These pieces of information include: spelling, syllable division, stress, pronunciation, part of speech, meaning, and usage label. It should be mentioned that not every dictionary would provide every piece of information presented here altogether. In order to be familiar with the system of presentation of a dictionary, you should read its introduction very carefully. For example, look at the entry for the word "commence", shown below. When you look up a word in the dictionary, you will find information on:Spelling and Syllable Division: com.mencePronunciation and Stress: /kamens/Grammar: vtUsage: (formal)Meaning: begin (sth); startExample: Shall we — the ceremony ?<<<<<>>>>>I will also provide you with some practice exercises, which help you to develop certain skills. When you finish the practice exercises, you should know what a dictionary contains and how it can help you in your English studies. It should be stated that Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Oxford Elementary Dictionary are the basis for doing the exercises. The topic contains a section on each of the above-mentioned pieces of information. But first you must know how to find the entry you want. Entries are the words that are explained in a dictionary. For example, this is an entry for the word "apple":apple n 1 (a) round fruit with firm juicy flesh and green, red or yellow skin when ripe: an apple juice, apple sauce illus at fruit. (b) (also apple tree) tree bearing this fruit. 2 (idm) an/the apple of discord (fml) cause of an argument or a quarrel. the apple of sb's eye person or thing that is loved more than any other: She is the apple of her father eye. in apple-pie order very neatly arranged. q applecart n (idm) upset the/sb's applecart = upset. applejack n [U] (US) strong alcoholic drink distilled from fermented cider.Dictionaries provide different types of information about a given word. They do not use the same system of presenting different pieces of information about a given word. Thus, when using a dictionary, you should carefully read the information provided in the beginning or at the end of the dictionary tiltled "Guide to Using the Dictionary". It should be stated that Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary is the main basis throughout this book. Among many kinds of dictionaries available in different sizes and prints, the following are suggested:1. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary: It is written especially for students. It provides information about meanings, idioms, parts of speech, usages, pronunciations and spellings, and syllable divisions.

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  • Lesson Five

    Finding the Right Entry Word
    Derivatives and Compounds
    Imagine you want to find the meaning of the words in bold type in the following sentence:

    The laziest pupils failed the exam.

    If you search for them in your dictionary, you will not find these words; you will have to look up the words "lazy", "pupil", and "fail". This is because:
    (1) comparative and superlative forms of adjectives (e.g. smaller, smallest),
    (2) plural forms of nouns (e.g. bags, churches) and
    (3) inflected forms of verbs (e.g. pushes, pushing, pushed) are not usually listed as entry words in the dictionary.
    A derivative is a word formed by adding an ending to another word, so "marked", "markedly" and "marking" are derivatives of "mark".
    A compound is a word or expression formed from two or more separate words. "Markdown" and "markup" are compounds of "mark".
    Derivatives and compounds are listed in bold type in a separate section at the end of an entry and are in alphabetical order.
    Sometimes, however, a derivative or compound of a word has its own separate entry. It may be that its spelling is very different; for example, compare "adhere" with its derivative "adhesion". It may also be because its meaning is very different, the meaning of the compound "horseradish", for example, has no obvious connection with the word "horse"

  • How to use a dictionary

    Lesson four


    Spelling refers to the way you write a word. Most students are aware of irregularities of spelling in the English language. Of course, there are rules of spelling which would help the reader to remember and identify the correct spelling of words. However, a dictionary is one of the best sources to check the spelling of words. Sometimes, you may know most of a word but you are unsure of certain letters. In this case write down the parts of the word that you can spell and leave gaps for any missing letters, like this:

    sep_r _te

    Now, start looking through the words beginning with sep_ in the dictionary. You will soon find that "separate" is the correct spelling.
    Sometimes there is more than one correct spelling of a word for British speakers. For example, "gasoline" can also be spelled "gasolene". In these cases the most common spelling is listed first in the entry for the word. So, if you look up the entry ("gasoline", "gasolene"), you will see that "gasolene" is the recommended spelling. If you look up the entry gasoline in your dictionary, you will find "— = gasolene". "=" in this case means "is an alternative spelling of".
    In addition, some words have two spellings, one of them is British and the other one is American. Suppose that you meet "favour" for the first time and want to find out its meaning. You see that an alternative spelling is also given at this entry; it is "favor". The difference between the two spellings is that the second one is American and it is shown in the entry by using " US " before the latter spelling.

  • How to Use a Dictionary

    Lesson Three

    Parts of Speech

    Words can be classified as nouns, verbs, and adjectives. These classes of words are called parts of speech. Dictionaries use abbreviations to represent the parts of speech; for example, "n" means that the word is a noun, and "adv" indicates that the word is an adverb. An abbreviation is a short form of a word or a group of words such as "Nov." for "November" and "NATO" for "North Atlantic Treaty Organization". Abbreviated forms are often written with a period.
    Many words in English can be used as more than one part of speech; for example, "sip" is often used both as a noun and as a verb:
    Sip your coffee slowly. (v)
    He took a sip of his coffee. (n)
    When a word has different parts of speech, the specific function of the word depends on the context in which it is used. We should pay attention to the part of speech to which a word belongs in order to determine its appropriate meaning. For example, in the sentence "He doesn't like the job, but the pay is good." the word "pay" is a noun and means "salary"; whereas in the sentence "Are you paying in cash or by cheque?" the word "pay" is a verb and means "to give money".
    However, when each part of speech has a number of different meanings, the two parts of speech are usually dealt with in separate numbered entries, as in the case of "print" and "print2" below:

    print' /print/ n 1 [C] mark made on a surface by
    pressure: finger —s; foot 2 [U] (a) letters made by
    printing. (b) printed matter. 3 [C] picture, design, etc made by printing on paper, etc: old Japanese 4 [C] photograph printed from a negative.

    print2 /print/ vt, vi 1 press or stamp (letters, a design, etc) onto or into paper, fabric, etc. 2 make books, pictures, etc in this way. 3 publish; cause to be printed: — a magazine. 4 write in printed characters (instead of ordinary, connected handwriting). 5 make (a photograph) from a negative film or plate: How many copies shall I for you?
    Sometimes, words which are completely unrelated in meaning (such as spring' and spring2) happen to have the same spelling. These are always = ;alt with in separate entries.

    spring' /sprig/ n 1 sudden strong jump. 2 place where water comes out of the ground. 3 thin piece of wire or metal that is twisted round and round so that it will jump back into place if you pull or push it.

    spring2 /sprig/ n time of the year after winter, when plants begin to grow.
  • How to Use a Dictionary

    Some exercises

    1.Write down this shopping list in alphabetical order. We have started it for you.


    2.Write down these words in alphabetical order.


    3.Choose the correct guide word for :


  • Locating a word in a dictionary

    How to Use a Dictionary

    Lesson two

    Locating a word in a dictionary

    Since the words that are explained in a dictionary - entry words - are arranged in alphabetical order, those whose first letter is "a" are at the beginning and those whose first letter is "z" are at the end of the dictionary. Therefore, the word "egg" comes after the word "apple" and the word "lemon" comes before the word "new" in the dictionary.
    But what if you have a list of words beginning with the same letter like "ball", "bring", "beach", and "bird"? Look at the second letter of each word: "ba" comes before "be", "be" comes before "bi", and "bi" comes before "br". So the correct order is "ball", "beach", "bird", and "bring". If the second letter of each word is the same, look at the third letter, and so on.
    When you know the alphabet, you can find any word quickly and easily. First, decide if the word is near the beginning, middle or end of the dictionary and open the dictionary at about the right place. When you find the approximate location of the word in the dictionary, you then need to locate specifically the word you are looking for. To do so, you should look at the top of the page and find the words printed in boldface. Those words are called guide words.
    The guide word on the top left is the same as the first word on that page and the guide word on the top right is the same as the last word on that page. Suppose one is looking for a word such as "make". One should first open the dictionary to somewhere in the middle. If the guide words are "men" and- mind", it is clear that the word "make" is not on that page, because the second letter of the word "make" comes before "e" and "i" in the alphabet. But if the guide words are "mad" and "mass", it is obvious that the word -make" is on the same page.
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