Grammatical Information

Especially in bilingual dictionaries and those who are written for people learning English as a source language, finding grammatical information is essential. Although factors like context and variety open great grammatical possibilities to native speakers, foreign speakers need more guidance because of their limited range of possibilities to express themselves.

When we take a look at general dictionaries, we see that basic grammatical information is always offered. We learn what part of speech the word is; if it is a verb we get to know if it is transitive or not and we are offered typical phrases in which the entry term occurs. This helps us in using the word grammatically correct. Mostly, one can learn about words which are normally used in the plural form or have other special characteristics. One always has to consider that grammatical information is highly subjective. Often you cannot say that a word has a particular grammatical characteristic because it can be interpreted and used in various ways. Learners of English need some instruction to understand and use a term correctly. Therefore dictionaries for non-native speakers tend to offer practical grammatical guidelines for their readers which need not have a satisfying theoretical and practical basis for a native speaker. Naturally, technical or children‘ s dictionaries do not offer grammatical information in an elaborate way. Their focus is on other characteristics of a term (Landau 1984, 88-92).



Go to the following online dictionaries or look up their book versions, if available, in the university library and find out, which grammatical information they offer in their entries!

a) The OED:

b) Roget` s New Millenium Thesaurus:

c) Merriam-Webster Online Search:

d) Free Online Rhyming Dictionary:

e) A dictionary of slang: