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How to Purchase a Good English Dictionary

Whether you are a new learner of English language or you are a pro, what you must have is a good English dictionary ready at your hand. No matter if it’s a bi-lingual or a mono-lingual one, it must abide by the standards of a good quality English dictionary. Now how do you decide if a dictionary is good or not? Well, a good dictionary should always include myriads of words along with their meanings and punctuation  Since it’s not a very easy job to pick up the right one, we have jotted down some helpful tips to get you started. Here are some points to help you get a good English dictionary –

Simple and useful definitions: Most importantly, a dictionary must define the meaning of every word in a lucid language so that people can understand the meaning clearly. Also, it is a good thing is it includes some sample sentences as it would enlighten you about the proper application of the word.

Phonetic transcription: Phonetic transcription is important as it teaches you how to pronounce a word. Check to see if all the words are supported by their phonetic transcriptions. Ideally, the transcription should abide by the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) standards, which is followed by linguists all over the world.

Phrasal verbs and idioms defined: Though there are separate editions for phrasal verbs and idioms, every dictionary should contain a list of the most common ones substantiated with examples.

Support for both British and American English: A good English dictionary must include both British and American spellings for all the words. should embrace both “color” and “colour”, “tire” and “tyre”, “check” and “cheque”, and so on. Also it should include pronunciations of both the styles, as they are spoken by the native people.

Current version: It is important to buy current and updated versions of dictionaries. Look for those which are not older than 5 years.

Look for recent words: Republishing a decade old dictionary with minimum changes is a common practice among publishers. So always look for some modern words in the dictionary. Words like web-blog, LOL, SMS, and ROFL were not used some years back; hence if a dictionary incorporates these words, opt out for it.

Look for dirty words: When you are learning a language, you must exploit all its aspects. Leaving out derogatory or coarse words or words with sexual connotations is not desirable. Although you might think that a dictionary should not have such words, but it is important to familiarize yourself with some of the most spoken words of the language. If an editor chooses to leave words that hint at some particular political or religious views, it may restrict you from getting the complete knowledge about that language.

Use a learner’s dictionary and a general use dictionary: Using different dictionaries proves to be helpful when it comes to learning a language. A learner’s dictionary will provide you simpler definitions while the other one will offer you more etymological information. Make sure they are from different publishers as offering the same content in new cover is common among publishers.

Don’t get carried away by the appearance: Colorful text may be good to look at but it adds to the price unnecessarily. Colorful images, too, do not really contribute much in the understanding of a word unless it’s a picture dictionary. Picture dictionaries are generally good for children. If you are buying a dictionary for yourself, select a plain text-based dictionary.


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