Czenglish

Dictionary vs. vocabulary

12. 6. 2022

B1- B1 B2 C1

WRONG: My English is terrible. I always look up words in my vocabulary.
RIGHT: My English is terrible. I always look up words in my dictionary.

Your English probably isn’t terrible. If you understand me, then your English is clearly very good! One small but common mistake though is using the word vocabulary instead of dictionary.

A vocabulary is a stock of known words. It can exist in your head – so for example, we could say My friend has a great vocabulary’ meaning they know a lot of words. Or it can exist in a book (or webpage), and we call this a dictionary. A dictionary contains lots of vocabulary.

Here’s a conversation between two students:

A: My English vocabulary is terrible!
B: I’ll buy you a dictionary for your birthday.
A: Thanks but it’s ok. I prefer to use online dictionaries like Seznam and Google.

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