Resources on the English language

This is an annotated link list that aims at quality, not quantity.

Oxford Dictionaries

An extensive dictionary, covering both British and American English.

WWWebster Dictionary (Merriam-Webster Online)

A large general English-English dictionary on the Internet. With detailed explanations, pronunciation information, etymologies, and even illustrations.

Another extensive dictionary, with rich information about phraseology.

Online etymology dictionary by Douglas Harper.

Contains a large number of etymologies for English words, with emphasis on international (e.g., Latin-based) words.

The Century Dictionary

An encyclopedic dictionary of English, from the early 1900s, considered by many to be the finest ever produced in the US. Contains detailed etymology notes.


A large site with online reference books, such as The American HeritageŽ Dictionary of the English Language.

On-Line English Grammar by Anthony Hughes

A concise presentation of the basics of English grammar.

Common Errors in English by Paul Brians

A most valuable practical tool for understanding and avoiding common errors. Check the index of errors, and you'll surely find several you tend to make!

Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.

A classic written in 1918. Especially section III, Elementary principles of composition, is very valuable.

Grammar, Punctuation, and Capitalization - A Handbook for Technical Writers and Editors by Mary K. McCaskill

Good detailed information about the topics. (But notice that the punctuation rules of English vary to some extent from one authority to another.)

alt.usage.english resources

Contains the alt.usage.english FAQ Answers to Frequently Asked Questions list for the alt.usage.english newsgroup, and supplements to it and related documents.

The Word Detective

A collection of answers to questions about the origins of words and phrases, with a nice alphabetic index.

Guide to Grammar and Style by Jack Lynch

Well-written comments on words and phrases, especially warning against boring style. Example:

Sentences beginning "It is interesting that" or "It is significant that" are usually as far from interesting as can be. Don't simply state that something is interesting: show it.

The list above is mainly for my personal use, but perhaps it is of some interest to others, too. For a larger collection of links on the English language, selected by a professional, see the Language Help by Ruth Vilmi.