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A Review of the Collins COBUILD dictionaries and other Collins COBUILD reference books

Three dictionaries

There are three main Collins COBUILD dictionaries:
  • The Students Dictionary
  • The Learner's Dictionary (Concise Edition)
  • The English Dictionary for Advanced Learners

Each one is designed for learners of English. This can include people whose first language is NOT English and they are learning English (often called ESL or English as a Second Language), or even English-speaking people who want a good dictionary with descriptive definitions.

One difference between these dictionaries and other English dictionaries is that each definition is a whole sentence using common words. It is not a phrase or a string of synonyms; but a full sentence. This makes it easier to understand.

Also, each definition uses the word in its typical context and shows the typical grammatical pattern associated with it. It also has several example sentences showing the usage of the word. Here are some examples using the 2002 Winter Olympics theme of "Light the Fire Within":

Light: If you light something such as a cigarette or a fire, or if it lights, it starts burning. Example: If the charcoal does fail to light, use a special liquid spray and light it with a long taper (a lighted candle). [From the Learner's Dictionary]

Fire: You can use fire to refer in an approving way to someone's energy and enthusiasm. Examples: I went to hear him speak and was very impressed. He seemed so full of fire. His punishing schedule seemed to dim his fire at times. [From the Advanced Learners Dictionary]

Within: If you have a feeling, you can say it is within you. Examples: She could almost feel fresh life and hope rising within her. ...a profound sense of loneliness deep within. [From the Student Dictionary]

The Collins COBUILD Advanced Learners Dictionary and the Collins COBUILD Learners Dictionary also have a more complex grammar breakdown. For example instead of just listing a usage as a noun the dictionary distinguishes between nouns that can take a plural form and nouns that can not. These classifications are very helpful for the non-native speakers who are more likely to be unsure about how to use a word.

The Advanced Learners Dictionary on CD allows the user to look up these grammar terms rapidly and easily by referencing simple easy to understand definitions in the help files.

The Student Dictionary does have the simpler more traditional grammar classifications of Noun, Verb, etc.

The Student's Dictionary also has a special 220 page "English Grammar Guide" at the back of the book, complete with its own Table of Contents.

Collins COBUILD Dictionary of Idioms

An idiom is a group of words which have a different meaning when used together from the one they would have if you took the meaning of each word individually.

This dictionary is full of idioms. Surprise! Phrases such as "have other fish to fry" or "break the ice" or "a stitch in time saves nine" are all clearly defined with full-sentence definitions and lots of examples sentences.

Collins COBUILD Student's Grammar: Self-study Edition with Answers

This looks like a classroom workbook and it may well be used for that, but it is also a reference book and a self-study workbook.

Each portion of English grammar is clearly explained in detail and completely. The left-hand pages explain the grammar and the right-hand pages are exercises so you can gain experience using what you've learned. There is also a glossary, table of contents and index to help you use this book solely for reference. There is no need to go through the book "lesson by lesson" unless that is exactly what you need or want for your grammar studies.

Collins COBUILD Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs

This dictionary concentrates on one particular aspect of the grammar and vocabulary of English: combinations of verbs with adverbial or prepositional particles. They are extremely common in English.

These combinations are generally called "phrasal verbs". They are often a particular problem for learners of English. Even though students may be familiar with both the verb in the phrasal verb and with the particle, they may not understand the meaning of the combination, since it can differ greatly from the meanings of the two words used independently.

This dictionary gives extensive information about phrasal verbs in English. The facts are presented in a very simple way, with plenty of real examples.

For example, this book clearly shows the differences between: bring back, bring along, bring over, bring off, etc.


Collins COBUILD dictionaries and reference books
Collins COBUILD dictionaries and reference books

ESL (English as a Second Language) dictionaries and reference books - Dictionaries know for explanatory full-sentence definitions

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