hi. welcome back to www.engvid.com.i'm adam. in today's lesson i want to speak withyou about: "how to use a dictionary". now, for some of you, thismight seem very obvious. you open the dictionary, you look for yourword, there it is, everything's good. but it's not that simple. now, the reason i sayit's not that simple is because a lot of people have a problem with exactly how to use a dictionary,and also when to use the dictionary. you don't always need to golook for every word. so, before i look at a few examples of whenyou should look for a word in the dictionary, i want to stress that if you really, reallywant to build your vocabulary quickly and
have a very wide range of vocabulary, usean english to english dictionary. i'm going to give you a couple of examples of whichdictionaries to use after, but english to english. now, i've had many students who useenglish to whatever language, english to spanish, english to japanese, english to whatever languageis their native language and vice versa. this is good for a very quick check,but don't make it a habit. okay? get yourself an english to english dictionary-you can getthe book, i'll show you one in a second-or get online and find the apps for the more common dictionaries.now, the reason i say this is because you will have to look for meanings of words, andif you don't understand the explanation of the meaning, you will probably learn morewords in that explanation and then you can
look those up. so you're actually going to buildyour vocabulary exponentially. "exponentially", very quickly and to a large degree,without end, so you can go very quickly. so, let's look at three sentences, and i underlinedthe words we're focusing on. okay? "salivate", "plethora", "mitigate". now, you may knowthese words, you may not, but these are a little bit higher end words, they're not verycommon. so we're going to think about what to do. first, use context. what i want you to dois i want you to try to guess the meaning of a word before yougo to the dictionary. "the hungry dog began to salivatewhen it saw the steak on the table." now, most of you have seen adog, most of you have probably
seen a hungry dog. now, you think of a hungrydog, you think of a steak, what do most dogs do? even what do humans do? dogs do it moreobviously, they start to salivate. they start... the little wet stuff comes out of theirmouths. right? that wet stuff is "saliva". dogs have it, you have it, i have it, human beingshave it, too. it helps us to eat and digest our food. now, because of the context, becauseyou have a hungry dog and because you have a steak, it seems pretty obvious that "salivate"means to start emitting or getting... letting out saliva. now, another thing to keep inmind: the next sentence will probably use this word, "saliva". so: "the dog began tosalivate, and all the saliva gathered in a pool on the floor. so then when i walked byit and i slipped and hurt myself, it's the
dog's fault, not my fault." okay? so, now, doi need to or should you go look at this...? look for this word in the dictionary? no. youcan guess the sentence. you probably are right in your guess of what this means. thenext sentence will probably confirm it. just move on. don't worry about this word. it'seasy. now you have a new word in your head. but let's look at the next word: "the forum was a grand success as ithad generated a plethora of ideas." now, you have a forum. a "forum"is where people exchange ideas or where they have discussions. on theinternet, there are plenty of forums. at www.engvid.com, there's a forum where you can askquestions, and teachers help, and other students help.
so, if the forum has all these ideas and itwas a grand success - why? because it had generated, it had made or created a plethoraof ideas. now, you can probably guess what this means. a "plethora" means many and varied.so, a large amount or a large number, and a varied number. so, now, if you can guessthe sentence but you don't really know this word, skip it. don't look for it in the dictionary.when should you look for this word in the dictionary? when you see it the second or thirdtime. now, "plethora" is a very high-end word, mostly used in academics, and even then,rarely used. people don't like this word because it's a little bit snobby. okay? not everybodyknows this word, not everybody needs to know this word. most people will just use a betterword or an easier word. "...generated many
ideas" or "...generated a variety of ideas".if you have a simpler word, use it. so, if you see this word, don't look it up. if yousee it again or the third time, then yes, look it up so you have itin your vocabulary base. next: "many investors sell off their stocksduring crises, thinking that this will mitigate their losses." so here's our word: "mitigate",notice we have all verbs, but you know because of context. now, again, usually the contextwill allow you to guess the meaning, but this word is pretty sure to come up again and again.this is a good word, it means to make less, like less intense, less painful, or weakenthe impact of something. so, this word... okay, the first time if you can understandthe sentence without looking it up in the
dictionary, keep going. the second time, andthere will be a second or third time, look it up in the dictionary. so,this one we're going to look up. excuse me. now, those of you taking the ielts or the toefl test,you need to know this word. it will show up at some point on the test. if not the test you'retaking, then the next practice test or the next practice test. this word will come upagain. know it. so look this word up in the dictionary. okay? so, when do you use it? when a word is repeatedoften enough that you know it's a word that's commonly used, and if the word... for example:"plethora", if you can't understand the sentence,
again, do you need to go right away, look atthe dictionary? no. do you understand the paragraph? if you understand the paragraphand you have a general sense of positive or negative in the sentence, again, skip it. ifit comes up again, look it up. if you need to know this word to be able to make senseout of the whole paragraph, then of course, look it up. now, the reason i say this isbecause many students tell me that it's very boring to read. why? because every few words,they have to go to the dictionary. so, they're reading with a dictionary in one hand, and thebook or the magazine article in the other and it gets very tiring. and yes, i understandthat. so, learn when to skip a word, learn to guess the meanings of the word, and understandthat words that are repeated often should
be looked up and become part of your vocabularybase. okay? so, now, we're going to look more detail in what you're going to see in thedictionary when you look up a word, and what to make of all the informationthat's presented there. okay? okay. so, now, we're going to look at basicallyhow to use the dictionary. now, before i get into all the different aspects of what's inthe dictionary, i want to talk about using an actual book dictionary, a physical bookyou can hold in your hand or getting online and using one of thedictionaries online. now, i personally prefer the merriam-webster'scollegiate dictionary. because i write mostly for a northamerican audience-okay?-and i
deal mostly with north american writing, i usea north american or the top north american dictionary. this is the american dictionary,but it also applies in canada. if i were in europe or in the uk, i would use the oxforddictionary. there are lots of other dictionaries; there's the collins in canada, there's thecambridge in the uk, etc. i use this one. now, you're thinking: "well, look how thickthat is", and it's actually pretty heavy. do you want to carry this in your bag everywhereyou go? of course not. i don't suggest or i don't recommend that you do that, but havethis available to you when you're at home or at your local library, at your school, atyour office. be able to access this whenever you need. now, this one is full of very tinywriting. i'm not sure if you can actually
see that, but everything thatis online is also on here. now, my personal opinion, my personal preferenceis to use the book rather than online whenever i can. why? think about your internet experience,think about how you behave when you're watching or doing something online. when you go to anyof these dictionaries online, you're going to have advertisements everywhere. you'revery easily distracted. okay? you're clicking buttons. it's very easy to click off the page,or to give up, or to not scroll far down enough. okay? so this makes you use... makes you searchfor words actively; you have to open the book, you have to look things up by alphabeticalorder. you can't just type in the word, you have to look for it, so you become active inyour search for the word. that's one. two:
while you're looking for one word, you mightcome across another word that sounds interesting or looks interesting, or: "oh, i've seen thisword somewhere before. i wonder what it means." so you're probably going to build your vocabularyeven faster by doing it in a book. when you search for your word online, you're just gettingthat one word and that's it. if you're curious enough, you'll go look for other ones, butyou won't know which ones to look for. here, they're in your face. better... sorry. better tobe distracted by other words in the dictionary than by diet pills or a new opportunity to goon vacation that you are going to see online. so, let's move on from there. however, there are, of course, advantages tothe online dictionaries as well. firstly...
and some of these things will be the same,some of them will be different. all of them will give you the symbols... the syllables-sorry-andthe... i forgot to mention, here, the phonetics. the phonetic spelling of the word. now, whatdoes "phonetic" mean? means the sound of the word, how to pronounce. so, let's go back toour word "mitigate". the webster's dictionary will give you the pure syllabic or syllablebreakdown of how to say it: "mitâˆ™iâˆ™gate". but for those of you who are a little bit moreadventurous, who are... have a good memory because you have to study a new alphabet,there's also the phonetic spelling: "mi", so this is an upside down "e", but it actuallysounds like: "ih", and "gate", "a" with a bar across from it is the diphthong, it's the"a"; not" "ah", not "aw", etc. "mi t é™ gät".
now, if you go to the oxford dictionary, theywill give you the same phonetic spelling, except instead of the "t", they will giveyou the "d". so, in england, they probably say: "midigate", in america, they say:"mitigate". so you know the differences, there. now, m-w.com, that's the merriam-webster'sdictionary. you can write merriamwebster.com and that'll go to the same place. oxforddictionaries.comwill take you to the oxford one. or dictionary.com, that's just the generic internet dictionary. ifyou go to google and type: "define" whatever word you're looking for, it will give you adefinition as well. so, these are the internet ones. so, they give the phonetic spelling,they give the syllables, they give you other forms. so, if "mitigate", you might also see:"mitigation", which is a noun, "mitigated"
is an adjective, "mitigator"is a noun, person. it'll give you the otherforms that you can look up. on the internet, not so much in the book,because they don't have that much space... on the internet, you will see sample sentences.now, if the sample sentences in the dictionary are not enough, you want to see more, go toyour search box on your search engine. i use google, so you can use that. just type: "use'mitigate'"-or whatever word-"in a sentence." usually the top entry will be for that page,and you will see many sentences. keep in mind that many of these sentences are a littlebit old-fashioned or highly academic, but some of them will be very usefulfor you to understand the word.
and online, obviously not in the book, therewill be a recording so you can actually hear the word spoken. i've listened to many ofthese recordings. some of them i like, some of them i don't like. i've heard differentversions, but it's up to you. you can go check all three dictionaries and compare how theword is said aloud. okay? so, now, we have the reasons to use the book, wehave the reasons to use online. now, what are you going to see when you getto the book? you're going to see multiple entries, but before that, you're going to seesomething... you're going to see the phonetic spelling, and then you might see somethinglike this. what does this mean? it means verb and transitive.
this is very important to know. so,"mitigate" is not necessarily a transitive verb, but it can be a transitiveverb. okay? so we... to mitigate a transitive verb, it means a verb that must take an object.so, if you have "vt", then the entry will be for the transitive verb. if there's a non-transitiveversion of this verb or a non-transitive use, they will separate thatinto different entries. okay. so, i want to look at the word "cover".sorry, one more thing. the dictionaries will also give you the origin of the word, like ifit came from latin or greek or from french or wherever. if you're interested in that,it's in the dictionary. if you're not, don't worry about it too much. but, sorry one morething, there is something called "false friends".
"false friends" are words that are used...for example, in spanish, there's a word in spanish and then you see the same word almostin english and you think they mean the same thing. that's not always the case. sometimesthey mean the same thing, sometimes it's a false friend, meaning that although it looksthe same, they're completely different uses in spanish or english.so be aware of that. now, let's look for this word. if you're goingto... if you have the problem with this word: "cover", you see a sentence and you're notunder sure... you're not sure how this word "cover" is being used, because as far as youunderstand, "cover" means like cover yourself with a blanket. but in the sentence you're lookingat: "the policy doesn't cover earthquakes."
policy doesn't cover earthquakes. so, obviously,"cover" doesn't mean like put something over or put something on top of something else. itmeans something else. you go to the dictionary and you see that there are actually16 entries for the verb "cover". that means 16 differentmeanings or uses for this verb. so, how do you know which one is yours?you don't. you go through each one until you find the meaning that appliesto the context you saw the word in. okay? now, some of these will even have...some of these will even have sub entries. so, for example, the first entry of "cover"is to protect, but this has also 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e, five sub entries. you can protectsomeone by i'm holding a gun so my friend
can come out of the situation, so i'm coveringhis retreat. cover with an insurance policy. you can cover someone by protecting them,defending them from an attack. in sports, the defender covers the guy with the ballso he doesn't get around him. so, lots of different uses. and we have six noun entries forthe word "cover". so, right away you understand it could be both a noun and a verb,and it has many different meanings. so, you see a sentence like this: "manyartists like to cover adelle's songs." adelle the singer is very famous, lots of goodsongs, everybody likes to sing her songs. everybody likes to cover them. so you're thinking: "cover?well, you can't put a blanket on top of a song, that doesn't make sense. there must beanother meaning." so, you go to the dictionary.
this is from webster's by the way, the 16,merriam-webster's. you go there and you go through all the different meanings, and youfind 16, number 16, the last one: "'cover' means to record or perform a song." now...sorry. to record or perform a cover of a song. so, now they're using the word "cover" in thedefinition of "cover", but they're using it as a noun. so you go to the noun entries,and number six will tell you a "cover" is a recording or performance of a song alreadyrecorded by someone else. so, there you go, you have a new understanding of the word "cover".if you want, you go check all the other 15, and you know all thedifferent uses of "cover". now, this takes a lot of work, yes, it does,but learning a new language takes a lot of
work. and i've... i've repeated many times,other teachers have repeated many times: if you really want to improve your language quickly,you have to build vocabulary. if you want to build vocabulary, you have to read.now, a lot of people say: "reading, oh, but i don't understand. everyword, every 10 words, i don't understand." well, that's what thedictionary is for. be patient, be motivated, be hardworking, and i guarantee you your english will improve very quickly and you'll be ableto speak about anything, read anything, write about anything because you willhave the vocabulary for it. okay. so, if you have any questions aboutthis, please go to www.engvid.com.
you can join the forumand take the quiz. if you like this lesson, pleasesubscribe to my youtube channel. and, of course, go out and get yourself adictionary. don't forget. a paper... a hardcopy one so you have it at home, your office, atschool, library, wherever you're going to be so you can check it. and download the apps orsave these... these addresses in your browser. and come back again.see you soon. bye-bye.