If you are an advanced learner of English you may occasionally find yourself in a situation where you have to write stuff in English, e.g. articles, school papers, translations etc. To improve your English writing skills, several things may come in handy. First, read more, and read the stuff written by educated native English speakers. Read major American and/or British newspapers—you can do it mostly for free these days. Read books. In this way, you will get used to how real-world English speakers “sound” in writing. And as you write, such various natural ways of expressing your thoughts in English will increasingly pop-up in your head. Second, use collocation dictionaries—they may help you learn how to use this or that word in context and in the way that sounds natural to English. Collocation dictionaries provide you with information on what adjectives are commonly used with a particular noun, what adverbs are commonly used with a particular verb, which prepositions should be used in this or that situation and so on and so forth. Using a dictionary like this may considerably improve your writing and make it sound more natural. All of the above is also true about your speaking. See below a list of resources that may help you improve your English writing and speaking skills.
A completely new type of dictionary with word collocation that will help students and advanced learners effectively study, write and speak natural-sounding English. This online dictionary is also very helpful for the education of the IELTS, TOEFL test.
JustTheWord is a completely new kind of aid to help you with writing English and choosing just the word.
If English is your first language, JustTheWord can help you express that elusive idea with le mot juste.
If you’re learning English, JustTheWord can justify your choice of words or suggest improvements—and JustTheWord knows about some common errors made by speakers of your mother tongue.
When we write, we search our knowledge of words in two ways. We choose between words that mean similar things. A thesaurus gives us access to this sort of knowledge. But our choice constrains and is constrained by the other words in the sentence. We know, or need to know, which word combinations sound natural. A dictionary gives us access to some of this sort of knowledge.
By analysing a huge amount of English text, we’ve built up a highly detailed knowledge base of the word combinations whose mastery is at the heart of fluent English.
Yet another collocation dictionary with a huge database and lots of usage examples.
Corpus of Contemporary American English (Free trial)
The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) is the largest freely-available corpus of English, and the only large and balanced corpus of American English. The corpus was created by Mark Davies of Brigham Young University, and it is used by tens of thousands of users every month (linguists, teachers, translators, and other researchers). COCA is also related to other large corpora that we have created.
Corpus of Contemporary British English (Free trial)
This website allows you to quickly and easily search the 100 million word British National Corpus (1970s-1993). The BNC was originally created by Oxford University Press in the 1980s – early 1990s, and now exists in various versions on the web. Note that our version of the BNC uses the CLAWS 7 tagset.
What does the Ngram Viewer do?
When you enter phrases into the Google Books Ngram Viewer, it displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books over the selected years.
This little video may help you understand what collocations are.