Dictionaries are essential for learning foreign languages, expanding one’s vocabulary and translating texts. They are used not only by students and language learners but also by professionals, who often use a wider range of specialised vocabulary for technical translations, for example.

Dictionaries in paper form are slowly becoming old-fashioned as the number of mobile applications and websites on the market is growing. Now these are the tools that help us to get to know and understand foreign languages.

In Poland, the biggest number of virtual learning materials have been created for the English language. We have chosen for you five best free portals which function as dictionaries for this language.

  • In our opinion, Ling is the number one among the online dictionaries. It contains nearly 4 million entries and 20 million definitions. It’s based on reliable publications. The portal does not use anonymous translations, so we can be sure that the translated texts are correct. It is used not only by people who occasionally search for individual entries, but also by professional translation agencies. Ling.pl is multilingual and includes not only English but also Italian, French, Spanish, German and Russian.
  • PONS is similar in design to Ling. Here, we can also easily find the entries we are interested in, and their content is rich and well organised. Especially noteworthy are the word use examples, which perfectly illustrate the use of a given word in its usual context. There is a recording for each phrase, available by clicking on the speaker icon, which makes it possible to learn the original pronunciation of a given word. The portal offers also free mobile applications (dictionary and “vocabulary trainer”), but they function only online.
  • Dict is a visually simple dictionary which contains only English-Polish and Polish-English translations. However, one can’t deny the vastness of its vocabulary and the abundance of its definitions. 120,000 words are enough to translate every text. It has also a remarkably large list of irregular verbs.
  • Bab.la is not only a professional and completely free online dictionary. It is also a large language portal, which offers much more than a mere translation of individual words. The website is an excellent tool for language learning, as it offers lessons expanding vocabulary, conversation guides, useful phrases, language games, tests and conjugation tables. And if you still have some linguistic doubts despite the huge amount of information that can be found here, you can ask a question on a forum available on the website.

Of course, it’s impossible not to mention the popular language tool, Google Translator. An easy and quick access to information is clearly one of its advantages. A trouble-free functioning and no advertisements is also a plus. However, although this dictionary contains many thousands of entries and is available in many languages, the lack of grammatical information and context-dependent meanings is one of its mayor disadvantages.

Also, Google Translate is not very good at translating when we try to use languages other than English. Then we often come across some really absurd expressions. This is because the text is not translated directly from one language into another. It  is first translated into English and then into the target language of our choice.

Nevertheless, since we assess here the usefulness of dictionaries in terms of translating single words in English, we can count this language tool as a recommendable one.

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