English

Frequently Asked Questions

Contents


  • What dictionary and reference materials can I find on Oxford Learner's Dictionaries?

    Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries is home to four dictionary and grammar reference titles. Some of these are available for free, and some are on our Premium site. The Premium content and features are available either with a print book or as a digital-only purchase.

    Here is a list of what you can find on this site:

    • Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 9th edition (OALD): a monolingual dictionary for advanced-level learners of British or American English
    • Oxford Advanced American Dictionary (OAAD): a monolingual dictionary for advanced-level learners of American English
    • Practical English Usage (PEU): a comprehensive guide to English grammar and vocabulary usage
    • Das Oxford Schulwörterbuch: a bilingual German-English/English-German dictionary for German-speaking learners of English

    Other features such as Word of the Month and our new Grammar & usage page are also free to access.

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  • How can I switch between different dictionaries and grammar materials?

    Use the selector to the left of the search box near the top of every page to switch from one set of content to another.

    • Select ‘English’ to search for words in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (OALD)
    • Select ‘American English’ to search for words in the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary (OAAD)
    • Select ‘Practical English Usage’ to search for entries in Practical English Usage (PEU)
    • Select ‘German-English’ to search for German headwords in Das Oxford Schulwörterbuch
    • Select ‘English-German’ to search for English headwords in Das Oxford Schulwörterbuch

    Your last choice will be remembered, so when you come back to the site next time, the same content will be selected by default.

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  • What content is free to access and what is not?

    You can access any entry in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary and the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary completely for free. The full A-Z content of both dictionaries is available on the free site, in addition to:


    There are a number of extra features available as part of OALD Premium, including the iWriter and iSpeaker. OALD Premium can be accessed with a purchase of some editions of the print dictionary, or as a digital-only purchase. You can find out more OALD Premium features here and buy an access code here.

    Practical English Usage is not available on the free site, but you can find a list of free sample entries on the PEU home page. Full access to Practical English Usage and the accompanying Diagnostic Tests is available with the purchase of a book + access code, or as a digital-only purchase.

    Das Oxford Schulwörterbuch is also not available on the free site. It is accessed with a code that comes with the print edition of the dictionary. Find out more here.

    You will see a red padlock symbol next to any content on this site that you are NOT authorized to access.

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  • I have an access code: how do I redeem it?

    If you have an access code, select ‘Redeem a code’ from the top of any page. If you are already logged in, all you need to do is complete the ’Redeem a code’ section. If you are not logged in, you will be taken to the login page. Either log in if you already have an account, or select ‘Register’ to create a new account.

    Enter your code at the same time as you register, or at any time via the ‘Redeem a code’ link.

    Your Premium content will be available as soon as you redeem your code, and you can see details of your Premium access on the ‘My Account’ page.

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  • If you are an existing OALD Premium user, you will be used to seeing a dark blue ‘premium toolbar’ with your access to the iSpeaker, iWriter, My Wordlists and Resources immediately below the search box.

    Now, you will find these links in the ‘Other Links’ panel on the right-hand side on larger screens and underneath the main panel on a small screen. The OALD Premium content has not changed, only the position of the links on the page has changed.

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  • What is Practical English Usage and how can I get it?

    Practical English Usage answers the questions that teachers and learners ask about English grammar and vocabulary, using clear, corpus-informed explanations and examples. Go to PEU home to find out more.

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  • What are the Diagnostic Tests and when will they be available?

    The Diagnostic Tests accompany the online version of Practical English Usage. They will help you find out what you know and don’t know about grammar and vocabulary. If you have access to Practical English Usage online, you will receive these Diagnostic Tests from mid-January 2017. Find out more about the Diagnostic Tests here.

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  • What is Das Oxford Schulwörterbuch and when will it be available?

    Das Oxford Schulwörterbuch is a dictionary for German-speaking learners of English (NOT for native English speakers who are learning German). It will be available on this site from mid-January 2017 with a purchase of the print dictionary. Find out more about Das Oxford Schulwörterbuch here.

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  • How do I look up words and grammar entries?

    Choose the content you want to search in from the selector to the left of the search box. Start typing the word you want to look up. Words will appear under the search box as you type. You can either select one of these suggested words or finish typing the word you want and press ‘Enter’ or the Search button. The best-matching entry will be returned. When you are using our dictionaries, you can look in the Other results list to see other close matches for your search word.

    If you're using a desktop browser, when you're reading a dictionary entry and don't know the meaning of a word in it, double click on the unknown word to look it up in the same dictionary. Please note, this feature is not available on mobile devices.

    For detailed help with looking up entries in Practical English Usage, please refer to the PEU quick start guide.

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  • I don't know how to spell a word. How can I look it up?

    Don't worry. Spell the word as best you can in the search box. A spellchecker will suggest a list of words that you might be looking for based on what you've typed. Choose your word from that list to go to the entry.

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  • How do the editors at OUP decide which words to include in the dictionaries?

    The entries in the Oxford learners' dictionaries are chosen on the basis of their frequency and usefulness for learners of English.

    Dictionary editors consult a corpus (= a database of real English, spoken and written) to analyse the usage of words. Based on this information, and based on their experience as English teachers, the editors decide which words are important enough to be included in the dictionary.

    The size of the English language means that, unfortunately, our learners' dictionaries cannot include every word. Some words are excluded because they are rare or specialized.

    If you are interested in more unusual or more specialized words, we recommend that you also consult a dictionary that is not designed specifically for learners of English, such as the Oxford Dictionary of English. For information on this and other non-learners' dictionaries, please go to www.oxforddictionaries.com.

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  • How can I listen to the pronunciation?

    You can hear how words are pronounced in British or American English by clicking or tapping the speaker icons within the entries. You can use these as a reliable model to practise your own pronunciation.

    Pronunciation is also shown in the dictionary using phonetic symbols. If you need help reading these symbols, look at this Pronunciation Guide.

    In OALD and OAAD you can also focus on the pronunciation of any word you look up by following the link at the bottom of the entry to its pronunciation page. These pages only include pronunciation information, for example this pronunciation page for the verb shake.

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  • What other information can I find out about a word?

    Many dictionary entries include synonyms (= words that mean the same thing) and opposites. Key symbols also indicate whether words and meanings are part of the Oxford 3000 list of important words to learn.

    In addition, there are often Usage Notes, which contain lots of different types of information about how the word is used in context, for example the grammar of the word or what other words should be used with it.

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  • How can I find out about the symbols used in dictionary entries?

    Symbols and labels used in both the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary are explained in this Guide to Symbols and Labels.

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  • How can I find out about the origin of a word?

    You can find information about the etymology of words in the Word Origin boxes that can be found at most entries in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

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  • How does the Word of the Day RSS feed work?

    By subscribing to the Word of the Day, you can automatically receive an entry from us every day.

    If you click on the RSS icon, you will be taken to a page where you need to specify the RSS reader that you want to use to receive the Word of the Day.

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  • How can Oxford Learner's Dictionaries help me expand my vocabulary?

    The Wordlists section contains the full Oxford 3000, the Academic Word List, lists of entries with pictures, entries with usage notes, and recent additions to OALD. Narrow down your selection by choosing one of the sections to see a list of entries. Use the wordlists as a study aid. How many words on each list do you already know?

    You can also refer to OALD's Topic Dictionaries for lists of vocabulary covering a broad range of subject areas. This learning tool contains twenty-four main topics, each containing numerous sublists.

    Another useful tool for building your vocabulary is the My Wordlists feature, available to OALD Premium users. In My Wordlists, you can create your own topic lists and test yourself on the meanings of the words in each list. Find out more about all the OALD Premium features here.

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  • How can Oxford Learner's Dictionaries help me improve my writing?

    Oxford Learner's Dictionaries includes features that can help you to become a better writer in English.

    The dictionary entries not only tell you what words mean, they also tell you how words are used. If you want to use a word correctly, look carefully at the grammar information, the example sentences, and the labels which tell you whether a word is formal or informal.

    Our learners' dictionaries also contain thousands of usage notes that will help you build your vocabulary and improve your accuracy. For example, in OALD there are several different types of note, including Synonyms, Collocations, Language Bank, Vocabulary Building, Which Word?, Grammar Point, More Like This, and Wordfinder.

    For even more help with writing, including a wide variety of model texts and guidance on how to plan and structure your own writing texts, the Oxford iWriter is available as part of OALD Premium. The Oxford Intermediate iWriter will be available to users of Das Oxford Schulwörterbuch from mid-January 2017.

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  • How can Oxford Learner's Dictionaries help me with my speaking?

    The Express Yourself usage notes that can be found at many entries in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary contain lots of useful language for everyday conversations in English. You can find an example of these new notes at the entry for agree.

    For even more help with speaking, including help with British and American pronunciation, everyday conversations and speaking exam practice, the Oxford iSpeaker is available on the Premium website. The iSpeaker contains hundreds of videos to help you with your pronunciation and conversation skills, and you can record and play back your own speaking. Find out more about our Premium features here.

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  • How can I contact the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries team?

    Please see our Contact Us page for details of how you can get in touch with any queries or comments.

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