This website allows you to quickly and easily search for a wide range of words and phrases of English in the 100 million word British National Corpus. As with some other BNC interfaces, you can search for words and phrases by exact word or phrase, wildcard or part of speech, or combinations of these. You can also search for surrounding words (collocates) within a ten-word window (e.g. all nouns somewhere near paper, all adjectives near woman, or all nouns near spin). Note also that unlike some other interfaces, this one does not limit you to just those phrases that occur two or three times in the corpus -- here all matching strings are retrieved. One unique aspect of the corpus is the ability to find the frequency of words and phrases in any combination of registers that you define (spoken, academic, poetry, medical, etc). In addition, you can compare between registers -- for example, verbs that are more common in legal or medical texts, or nouns near break that are more common in fiction than in academic writing. Finally, you can easily compare between synonyms and other semantically-related words. One simple search, for example, compares the most frequent nouns that appear with sheer, complete, or utter (sheer nonsense, complete account, utter dismay). The interface also allows you to input information from WordNet (a semantically-organized lexicon of English) directly into the search form. This allows you to find the frequency and distribution of words with similar, more general, or more specific meanings. I recommend taking the three minute tour of the site to get familiar with the use of search functionality.

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