Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 11

Universiti Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102

VOCABULARY LEARNING SKILLS


Dictionary Skills
How to Use an English Advanced Learners Dictionary
Utilizing the Dictionary
What is a dictionary?
As a student, we will only refer to the dictionary whenever we need to
look up for words that we do not understand and therefore we would
like to know the meaning. A dictionary is a book which contains a lot
of information. Besides listing the definition of words, it can also
contain idioms, phrasal verbs, pictures and others. Nowadays, a
dictionary contains more than all these. We can also find dictionaries
in so many languages. Some of them are published with bilingual use.
How to Use the Dictionary?
Most dictionaries will have a specific guide page that will inform users
regarding the content of the dictionary, how to look up for word
meanings, by using (phonetic) symbols, codes and others. Below is an
example of how a page from a dictionary will look like.

Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 1 of 11
Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102

Example:
1

take/tek/verb, noun: [AmE] [BrE]


5

to carry or move something from one place to another


I forgot to take my bag with me when I got off the bus.
5
to put your hands or arms around sb/sth and hold them/it
I passed him the rope and he took it. 6
take after sb to look or behave like an older member of your
family especially your mother or father.
7

Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 2 of 11
Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102

Some of the content of a dictionary are as listed below. They are:


1. Headword
Headword is the basic word and they are usually in bold and
arranged in alphabetical order (A Z) to ease the user whenever
they are searching for specific word. Headword is the first thing
to appear in a part of a dictionary. Headword is also supposed to
show the correct spelling of a word.
2. Pronunciation/Phonetic Transcription
It usually comes after the headword and it comprises of
phonetic symbols on how to pronounce the specific word. A
phonetic symbols (Pronunciation key) list is usually given at the
front part of a dictionary so that users will be able to refer to it
from time to time.
3. Grammar information
(i)
A dictionary will inform users regarding the group of parts
of speech
the headword is in. For example, if a word is in a noun
form, a dictionary will also inform you whether it is a
countable or an uncountable noun by using certain
symbols like [c], [nc] for countable noun or [u], [nu] for
uncountable noun. (depends on the symbols used by the
dictionary) It will be wise for you to check the symbols
given before you start using the dictionary.
For example:
countable [c] or nc
uncountable [u] or nu
(ii)

A word can also have several different parts of speech


depends on how the word is used.
For example:
hit (verb)
hit (noun)
-

(to) strike
(a) strike

Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 3 of 11
Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102

4. American or British usage


A dictionary might sometimes inform users on the different
words used in the US or UK.
For example:
police (UK) -

cop (US/Am/NAmE/

5. Definition
Each headword will have its own definition because that is the
purpose of a dictionary, which is to give meanings to words.
Sometimes, a word might have several numbers of definitions.
So it will be wise that you refer to the context of the sentence in
order for you to be able to get the right meaning. When a word
has more than one meaning, the different meanings are
numbered to show differentiations.
6. Example
Besides giving the definition of a word, a dictionary might also
show you the examples of sentences on how to use the word.
This is very useful especially for words which have several
different meanings.
For example:
hit (verb)
hammer.
hit (noun)

He hit the nail squarely on the head with the

Give it a good hit.

7. Phrasal Verbs (PHR V)


A dictionary might also include phrasal verbs. You can find these
words when they are usually marked with [phr v] - to indicate
the word is a phrasal verb. Another clue is that, phrasal verbs
are usually in the form of phrases (contain more than one word).
They are made up of a verb and a preposition. The word hit may
give you several phrasal verbs.
For example:
Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 4 of 11
Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102
hit back
hit on

- to reply to attacks or criticism


In a TV interview she hit back at her critics.
- to think of a good idea suddenly or by chance
She hit upon the perfect title for her new

novel.
hit out
criticizing them

to attack sb/sth violently by fighting them or


I just hit out blindly in all directions.

8. Idioms (IDM)
A dictionary may also contain phrases that have particular
meanings. It is usually put at the bottom of an entry.
For example:
hit and run(a road accident caused by a driver who does not
stop to help)
A boy was killed in a hit-and-run outside his school.
9. Compound words
We can also find compound words- two or more words combined
and act as a single word-in the dictionary.
For example:
hit list
hit man
hit squad
10.
Register
This is the part where it shows in what situation (context) a
word is usually used.
Some of the situations (context) might be formal, informal,
legal, technical etc.
11.
Stress
The mark ( ) shows which part of the syllables should be
stressed. It is placed before the stressed syllable.
12.
Synonyms, Opposites and Related Words
Similar meanings or opposite meanings of certain words are
shown after the definitions.
Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 5 of 11
Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102

13.
Derived Words
This part shows the newly formed words. They words are
formed from the original word in the headword.
14.
Other Features
Sometimes, certain dictionaries will include codes, symbols,
abbreviations and other features in the dictionary. Nowadays,
most dictionaries contains illustrations, charts, diagrams,
pictures and even exercises in order to make the dictionary
looks interesting and approachable.

Pronunciation/Phonetic Symbols
Below are tables of phonetic symbols which can be found in most
dictionaries. These examples are taken from the latest edition of
Longman dictionary. The examples of pronunciation are given based
on the example of words given in the last column.

Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 6 of 11
Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102

VOCABULARY LEARNING SKILLS


Guessing Meaning Using Contextual Clues

Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 7 of 11
Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102
Using context clues is actually guessing the meaning of a word from
other words, phrases or sentences that come after or before the word.
Example clue
The meaning of the word can be guessed from the examples given.
e.g. The pet shop is selling exotica like golden turtles, two-headed
snakes, albino python and dragon fish.
The examples, which are rare and strange animals, help readers
guess the meaning of the word exotica.
Experience clue
We know from our experience how people and things act or react
in a certain situation. Consequently, we can guess the meaning.
e.g. The parents waited in anguish for news of their lost child.
Through reading or indirect experience, one knows that if parents
lose their child, they will suffer mentally and emotionally.
Contrast Clue
It is possible to guess the meaning of a difficult word if you
already know the meaning of a contrasting word used within the
same sentence or group of sentences. The contrasting word is
usually indicated by the use of transitions such as although,
however, on the other hand and not.
e.g. Classical music sound so mellifluous to my ears, unlike heavy
metal music that sounds so harsh and loud.
The word unlike introduces a contrasting idea, in this case harsh
and loud is the opposite of mellifluous. Thus, we are able to guess
that the sound of classical music is not harsh and loud.

VOCABULARY LEARNING SKILLS


Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 8 of 11
Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102
Guessing Meaning Using Affixes

A word may consist of little parts, each having a meaning. The


combines meaning of all these parts adds up to the meaning of the
word. Here is a list of some common components of words: prefixes
and suffixes.
1. Prefixes

Negative
meaning

Reversing the
action/effect
Pejorative
meaning
Time/Order

Size/Degree

Number

Prefix
es
adisiliminirnonundedisunmalmispseud
oanteforepreexposthyperhypooutoversubsuruni-

Meaning
Not / the
opposite of /
lacking

Reversing
the action or
the effect
Badly
Wrong
False

Examples
Amoral, asymmetrical
Disloyal, discourteous
Illogical, illegible
Improper, immobile
Insane, inadequate
Irresponsible, irrelevant
Non-smoker, nonsense
Unfair, unwise
Decentralize, descend
Discolour, disown
Undo, unzip
Malfunction, malnourished
Misconduct, misinformed
Pseudo-scientific

Antenatal
Before Foretell, foreknowledge
Pre-school, pre-war
Former
Ex-husband, ex-president
After
Post-election, postdate
Extra
Hyperactive,
Less
hypersensitive
Longer,
Hyposensitive
faster etc
Outweigh, outlast
Too much
Overcharge, oversimplify
Under, lower Subhuman, substandard
Additional
Surcharge, surtax
One
Unicycle, unisex

Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 9 of 11
Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102

Others

bitripolyantiautococount
erproretransvice-

Two
Three
Many
Against
Self
Joint,
together
Against
For
Again
Across
Deputy

Bilingual,bi-monthly
Tricycle
Polysyllabic
Antisocial, anticlimax
Autobiography, automation
Co-exist, co-heir
Counteract
Pro-communist
Reclaim, regain
Transcontinental, transfer
Vice-head, vice-admiral

2. Suffixes
Suffixes
-age
-ation
-dom
-ee
-ed
-en
-ify
-ize
-ess
-ette
-ful
-hood, -ship
-ish
-like
-ly
-y
-ity
-less
-let
-ster, -eer
-ward(s)

Meaning
Extent, amount
State, action
Domain, state of
being
Person who is
HavingBecome
Female
Small
Full of, giving
State of being
Having the
quality of
State, quality
Without, not giving
Small, unimportant
Person engaged inIn the direction of

Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Examples
Wastage, drainage
Starvation, education
Kingdom, stardom
Employee, trainee
Blue-eyed, oddshaped
Ripen, deafen
Beautify, justify
Popularize, legalize
Actress, waitress
Kitchenette,
leatherette
Useful, pitiful
Boyhood, brotherhood
Foolish, childish
Childlike, cowlike
Manly, brotherly
Sandy, milky
Sanity, rapidity
Speechless, childless
Booklet, starlet
Gangster, profiteer
Homeward, onwards
Page 10 of 11

Vocabulary Skills

Universiti Kuala Lumpur


Malaysian Institute of Chemical and BioEngineering Technology

Technical Communication
WEB 10102

Semester 2 (Bachelor)

Page 11 of 11
Vocabulary Skills