Writing and Speaking

How to Use a Dictionary If You Cannot Spell the Word – Part 2

In Part 1 of this topic we looked at the first part of the strategy for searching the dictionary. To read this just go to my article titled: How to Use a Dictionary If You Cannot Spell the Word – Part 1. This identified how you start to work out the letters in a word before you even open the dictionary.
 
In this article you learn how to use the dictionary to find the spelling and meaning of the word you are searching for. So, you have determined roughly where in the dictionary you need to start looking for the word. Again let’s look at the word “receive” which you may have thought was spelt as “receve”.
 
Usually at the top of the dictionary page there are listed the words that start the page and end the page. So, once the dictionary is open you flick forwards or backwards through the pages by scanning and comparing the words at the top of the dictionary pages with your word to find the page where the word could be. To do this:

  • Open the dictionary in the location around where your first letter is.
  • Look at the word that starts the page and that which ends the page
  • As you know your first three letters are “r”, “e” and “c”, compare these letters with their positions in your word with the letters and their positions of the starting word. If your letters are alphabetically before the letters in the word then you need to go backwards. 
  • If your letters are alphabetically after those in the first word, then compare them to the ending word to see if they are before it or after it. If before, then the word is on this page somewhere. If your word is after then the end word at the top of the page, then your word is on a subsequent page.
  • You continue to compare your word with the words at the top of the page until you work out which page the word could be one.
  • As an example let’s look for the word starting with the letters “rec“. To scan through the pages in the dictionary:
  • Assume the dictionary page you opened was for the page with words starting with “sat” and ending with “seat”. You compare the first letter of your word “r” with the first letter in the top of the page “s”. Since your word’s letter is alphabetically before the letter “s”, then go back a large number of pages to find where the first letter on the top of the page starts with “r”. 
  • Assume you have the dictionary page showing the top words as “rap” to “rat”. Compare the second letter in your word “e” with the second letter in the word at the top of the page “a”. Since your word’s letter is alphabetically after the word at the top of the page, you flick forwards a number of pages at a time until you find the word at the top starting with “re”.
  • Assume you have the dictionary page showing the top words as “react” to “realign”. Compare the third letter in your word “c” with the third letter in the word at the top of the page “a”. Since your word’s letter is alphabetically after the word at the top of the page, go forwards or backwards only a few pages at a time until you get a match on the letters “rec”.

Once you assume you are on the page that contains your word, scan down the words in the page until you find a word that matches the word you are looking for. If you cannot match the word, then what do you do? 

  • Be creative and come up with all the different ways that you can think of for spelling the word you want to spell.
  • Another option you have is to go into MS Words and type in the word as you think it is spelt. If you are close the spell checker will give you options which could match.
  • Using each of the words you think u, go through and repeat the two searching strategies again until you find the match.

Again the strategies are:

  1. Determine where to start looking in the dictionary
  2. How to scan the pages and words in the dictionary.

If all else fails then definitely ask someone else or find a word that you can spell that means the same thing. Always remember the thesaurus.  By the way…do you want to learn how to spell so that you have the confidence in your life to learn and develop?

Comments Off on How to Use a Dictionary If You Cannot Spell the Word – Part 2