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British National Corpus

(reviewed winter 2012)

Reviewer: Tu, Yung-ting

Recommendation: recommended


The British National Corpus (BNC) contains a wide ranging word collection. The sample resources are from newspapers, journals, radio shows, etc. The type of English on the BNC is modern British English as well as some English which was used in late 20 century.


BNC is managed by the BNC Consortium, which is led by Oxford University Press. BNC is also supported by British Library and the British Academy.

This webpage is a resource which helps learners to make good word choices. The difference between the BNC and an online dictionary are online dictionary usually has limited example sentences, and limited word usage explanations. Because of its large corpus of real language are, the BNC can provide more help with example sentences. Learners will find it easier to figure out vocabulary usage with an authentic example sentence bank.

        The only disadvantage of the BNC is it’s not convenient to look for collocations and phrases. Putting collocations into searching box such as “look for,” would only come back with the result for ”look.” That’s the reason I only give the BNC “recommended” but not “highly recommended”.

Subject headings: vocabulary, English language corpus