How to choose best dictionary?

Which are the best dictionaries?

It is absolutely necessary that you develop your vocabulary level to comprehend English text easily. For that, you need some kind of source that can explain the words properly. Those living in English-speaking countries have a great advantage that they are surrounded by this constant exposure to English language. However, for those living in non-English speaking countries, there is none who can explain the meanings properly. This is when dictionaries come in handy.

Importantly, for IELTS examination you need to use words in proper context. You just cannot write any word without any association with the topic. This would actually lower band score. So, you must develop your vocabulary with more interest.

Refer to a dictionary

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Now, the question comes naturally: if it is so important, then why do people avoid using dictionary?

  • It takes a lot of time

Many non-native speakers claim that it takes a lot of time to see a word and to remember them. My personal opinion is that it saves you some time. Actually, when you’re reading the meaning and examples, you’re repeating that particular word and this helps you deeply remember that particular word. What’s more, you’re constantly reading English language, so unknowingly, you’re making your brain familiar with English terms.

  • Dictionaries are expensive

Well, this is another excuse that English learners have. Actually, nowadays, you can find different versions of dictionaries online and they are as good as a real one. Here are five of my personal suggestions. These are few of the best dictionaries available on the internet.

Five Top class dictionaries

Oxford Advanced Learners dictionary

What’s cool about Oxford Dictionary is that it offers a comprehensive “Usage Notes”. See in the link. There is a box with light blue background and it gives some useful expressions and collocation for learners of English.

Macmillan learner’s dictionary

In this dictionary, you can find thesaurus. Take a look at the link at the bottom with “more”. This takes you to Thesaurus page and you can find related words here. This is really important as some words may seem similar but there is a difference between them. You can find out about that difference here.

Longman dictionary of Contemporary English

They offer different word forms in a separate page. Take a look at the right-side where you can find a link for “complaint noun” for more information.

Collins dictionary

This is a good dictionary because if you don’t know any of the word, just click on that word and you will be taken to that word’s page. So, this is good for new learners. You won’t have to type in new words again and again.


This website offers related words at the bottom. You can check this link and find “Related to COMPLAIN”. There you can find many other links which directs you to other related words. So, this feature can help you identify different synonyms of a word.

Which dictionary should you prefer?

Best dictionaries to use for Vocabulary

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The dictionaries should include following items.

Synonyms and other related words


Obviously, the dictionary needs to be comprehensive. It should include certain important features like different word forms, any opposite word or synonyms of a word. Moreover, some dictionaries also include the pronunciation of words which I think is really cool. This also gives you the opportunity to learn native pronunciation.


OK, now another point is you need to know which words are countable and which are uncountable. Some dictionaries include this information in the form of letter “U” or “C”. This gives you a clear view of whether the noun should be preceded by an article or not.

Example sentence or phrases

You also need to have some references to remember the word in context and understand it better. Examples can help your understanding by a large amount. If you get two or three examples of a given word then you will remember that particular word for a longer time.

Related Idioms or phrasal verbs

Some verbs have related phrasal verbs. Although the meaning changes when a preposition is added to a verb, still it is necessary to group such words according to some criteria. Some dictionaries provide related phrasal verbs and idioms in their explanation. This helps your understanding of listening and makes your speak like a native speaker if you use them in your daily English conversations.

Usage notes:

This is the latest addition to some of the advanced dictionaries. Oxford and many other dictionaries nowadays provide “usage notes”. This is just a collections of collocation that is considered to be correct. This clearly explains the word in detail. So, it’s normally for advanced learners of the language but it is always good to know certain words in detail for IELTS or similar exams.

Did you notice words in orange fonts? These are some of the advanced vocabulary related to English study and learners.

That’s it folks.

Good Bye.

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