Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

C. S. Lewis

The original is unfaithful to the translation.

Jorge Luis Borges

Language Tools


Cambridge Dictionaries Online includes examples of usage and mentions differences between British and American usages and spellings. Advantage: Each entry lists definitions from several dictionaries. Tabs for Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Reference and Web. Good resource for finding a substitute for a phrasal verb, for example: to get a hold of = to obtain

Merriam-Webster The Gold Standard: Type in your word and decide whether you want the dictionary or the thesaurus. Select ”Other Dictionaries” from the top menu to find a section with Grammar Guides, which leads to “English Grammar Rules and Usage.” Scroll down; there’s a lot there. is definitely a cool dictionary search module. Take a look:

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Style Guides and Manuals

The Chicago Manual of Style. You can’t live without it, or at least some of us can’t make a living without it!

The Elements of Style. An old, but not always venerated classic.

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. Free access to some of the sections; nice layout; good review of and easy access to punctuation issues. Page on “effective writing” provides an introduction to the ground rules that will help improve your skills. Also has a page with quick reference explaining those confusing pairs: that vs. which; then vs. than; etc.

The Literary Encyclopedia. The table of contents alone tells you everything you need to know to write well. Worth browsing just to distinguish your strengths from your weaknesses. Note that the links on the Webpages of The Literary Encyclopedia open by clicking on the asterisks.

Research and Documentation Online. An online version of a Diana Hacker Booklet. A student-oriented site with comprehensive resources and explanations for those learning the art of research and documentation.

Common Errors in English. An exhaustive alphabetized list for easy reference.

Acronym Finder. A helpful tool.

Websites – The American’s guide to speaking British (could save your reputation!).

Idiomizer. Search for idioms and their equivalents in multiple languages. It functions as a Wiki site, so sign up and contribute. It’s fun! Use idioms to give flair and flavor to your writing Dr. Wheeler’s Website for college students is a useful resource. For a taste, take a look at ”What is Style?” There’s so much you can do here: just start fiddling and you’ll find your own favorite uses.

Online Etymology Dictionary. Alphabetized list includes prefixes and suffixes. Pure fun and enrichment!

Onmiglot. Its header reads Writing systems and languages of the world. There’s so much to explore here. I love the Multilingual pages.

Forvo is all the words in the world–pronounced. Use the search box, get acquainted with the tabs or join and help in the effort!

Translation on Wikipedia: a truly fascinating article. I recommend the sections titled “Fidelity vs. transparency” and “Equivalence.”