How to Use a Dictionary

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A dictionary is a great resource for finding out a number of things about a particular word. All the words in a dictionary are going to be categorized in alphabetical order, which makes finding a word very easy. There are a number of components that each dictionary entry is going to have.

First of all, there’s going to be a pronunciation guide. This is to help the reader understand how to say the word. There will also be a listing of the parts of speech that word can be, depending on the sentence the word is in. Some words might be able to be an adjective or an adverb, and other words might always be a verb. In addition to that information, they may also include etymology, which is the language that the word originally came from and the word’s definition in that language.

A dictionary entry will always contain the definition of the word in English. While many people think that only words and definitions are included in a dictionary, you can see here that there’s also other information. Someone may look up a word in a dictionary to figure out how to pronounce it or to figure out what parts of speech it can be. Finding the definition of a word is only one of the uses for a dictionary.

Down here, I have a sample entry in a dictionary. This only contains the parts of speech and the definition of the word. “Well” can be an adverb or noun. Here, you have the definition for “well” when it’s an adverb, which means “in a good way”, and when “well” is a noun it means “a hole drilled into the earth”. Notice here that there’s the number one. That’s because there could also be a number two. Maybe there could be two definitions for “well” when it’s an adverb or two definitions for “well” when it’s a noun.

Some words may always just be one part of speech. Say a word is always a noun. There could be three or four, or maybe even more definitions for that word when it’s a noun. All of those would be listed here in the dictionary entry. The best way for a reader to determine which is the correct definition of a word is to replace the word in this sentence with the dictionary definition. If the sentence says, “The person fell into the well,” you could replace “well” with these two definitions to see which one seems correct. The first sentence would say, “The person fell into in a good way,” or “The person fell into a hole drilled into the earth.” Obviously, “well” is a noun. You would go with this definition of the word.

Provided by: Mometrix Test Preparation

Last updated: 07/10/2018


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