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Use Google to Learn Words that Go Together

Discover Important Collocations through Search

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Google is a the world's most popular search engine. However, did you know that Google can help you learn important phrases and English words that go together? That's right. Google can help you improve your English just by searching. Google is like the worlds largest corpus. A corpus is a collection of texts that people use to statistically find out word frequency and collocations. Collocations refer words that commonly come together. Google acts like a corpus when it provides suggestions on search phrases. These suggestions are made because a large majority of people search for these phrases used with certain words. In other words, type in the word 'business' and you'll find a long list of phrases relating to business. Here's an example of how to use Google to help you learn new phrases.

Part I: Finding the Words that Go Together

  • Go to Google.
  • Type in 'business'. You'll probably get at least four suggestions.
  • Type in 'business plan' and you'll see more commonly used phrases with 'business plan'.
  • Look at the results that Google provides, you'll see titles with the search term as well as short descriptions with your phrase.
  • Read through the short phrases to see examples of how the words are used together with other words.
  • Take note of the adjectives used describe the 'business plan' or other search term.
  • Notice the words following 'business plan' or other search term.
  • Start a list of the most common phrases you find with 'business plan' or other search terms.

Part II: Start Using Words that Go Together

The next phase is to start using the collocations that you've collected in your list. Here are some suggestions on checking your practice writing.

  • Choose a phrase from the list of collocations (words and phrases that go together) that you have learned.
  • Use the phrase in a short sentence. It's important to use short sentences so you can compare your sentences to others.
  • Copy your sentence (Ctrl + P) and paste it into Google (Ctrl + V).
  • Check how your results compare to similar sentences that will be returned in the search results.
  • For example, my short sentence "Business plans are important." provides many interesting results with related vocabulary that can help improve my writing style

For more information and practice and collocations, there are a number of resource on the site you should find helpful. First, learn the definition and explore examples of collocations. Start easy by learning collocations with do and make. Once you feel comfortable with the concept, continue exploring the collocation resources and lessons on the site.

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