8 tips to make the most of your dictionary - Communicate School

8 tips to make the most of your dictionary

  • Check you have the correct word entry: English has a lot of homonyms (words with the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings) so the first definition you read might not be the one you are looking for.
  • Learn the abbreviations: dictionaries show you the part of speech or word class of each word using abbreviations such as det., adv., and pl., so make sure you know what these mean.
  • Look at the pronunciation: dictionaries usually give a word’s pronunciation using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) or a respelling to mimic pronunciation.
  • Look for word stress: they usually show stressed syllables, often using bold, with an underline, or an apostrophe (‘).
  • Look for word families: some dictionaries show words in the same word family, for example if you look up the adjective fresh you might also find the adverb freshly and the noun freshness.
  • Read the word origin: many dictionaries display how a word has changed (etymology). Knowing the origin of a word could help you remember it more easily, or show links to your own language.
  • Look beyond the words: almost every English dictionary has a small section with useful information about British culture to help your language learning, such as interesting people, scales of measurement, symbols, and collective nouns.
  • Always keep one handy: a pocket-size dictionary might not give you the same depth and detail, but it is great for quick reference and understanding when you’re on the go.

How to find our Manchester English School

Our Address

Communicate School
Murray House
85 Piccadilly
M1 2DA


+44 (0)161 2358 480