Dictionaries are very important tools for English learners. They make things more clear, give valuable information about vocabulary, and in many cases help teach grammar.
With that said, the learner should know how to choose his dictionaries.
There are some excellent English-English dictionaries, such as the Unabridged Merriam-Webster, that can make the learner scream in horror… It is simply way too big and complicated for the average learner. Actually, it can even be way too big and complicated for the average English speaker!
Other dictionaries can be too small. They might have too little words, and too little information for each word. So they can have little or no use.
So the trick is to select the perfect one for you. You should ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the definitions clear to me? Can I easily understand them?
- Does it give enough example sentences? (These are highly helpful.)
- Does this dictionary have most of the words I am looking for?
- Can I get it together with a handy CD? (This can actually be very useful and time saving!)
There are other features that make a dictionary more desirable, such as many illustrations, usage notes, grammar notes, and other cool extras, so you might want to look for those too.
Did you know many good and popular dictionaries have a free online version? You can read about them, and about other recommended dictionaries in this English Dictionary Guide.
Ola Zur is the editor of Really Learn English Vocabulary and Easy English Grammar, an illustrated guide to English.