Using Google to improve your English

Just a small follow-up on my earlier post about how I learned English because I noticed I forgot to talk about how I use Google too :)

So you remember I told you about that English-English dictionary I was using? I don’t use it anymore, since a long time now. I use Google instead.

No Entery

There is a trivial way you can use Google to check definitions and proper writing of words: just type the word you are looking for in the search bar and Google will give you its definition or it will suggest you a correction if you typed it wrong (try this for example). At worst it will give you links to online dictionaries. I even use that to check entire idioms or slang.


However, if you want to make sure that Google is going to return you the definition of a word you must use one of the Google search commands, the “define:” command. Try it, go to and type “define:appalling” :)

I also use the Google dictionary Chrome extension for when I surf. Just select a word on the page and a pop-up with its definition will show up.

Finally, you must be careful when you search for entire expressions or idioms. Google will usually return links to popular pages featuring that expression but it doesn’t mean that the authors got it right. There are some popular expressions that most people don’t know how to write (the French “au temps pour moi” comes to mind, if you have English examples you can write them in the comments). In that case it’s useful to search and learn about the history of the expression so you can remember how to write it.

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