Using the concordance and word sketch tools in Sketch Engine

You might have foreseen some limitations while working with Google Scholar. For instance, there is not information about the possible collocates of a word. Sometimes you have to navigate through hundred of pages of results, without neither knowing what the different collocates are, nor their frequency. Besides, it doesn’t allow to perform complex searches in which you can specify what word class you’re looking for. 

Google Scholar is what we call a «raw corpus», unlike some corpora available at Sketch Engine, whereby every word has been annotated with information about its word class. We have seen in module 1 data retrieved from Sketch Engine showcasing the highlighted words’ most common collocates and some of their concordance lines.

Remember that in module 1 we had seen concordance lines of the word ‘gauge’ as a verb. If you access the concordance search, go to advanced search like in the following picture to see examples of gauge as a noun used in context:


Lemma is the basic form of a word. Its search will provide results of its different forms (click query type; lemma; part of speech: any). If we search ‘be’, the results will be all concordances lines in which ‘be’, ‘am’, ‘is’ and ‘are’, ‘was’ and ‘were’ appear.

We’ve previously seen a chart of ‘tone’ as a noun. Now search ‘tone’ as a lemma here and play the following video that gives an example of how to go to the Word Sketch feature, where word’s collocates and other words in its surroundings are shown. In this case, collocates of ‘tone’ as a verb.

You can also access the Word Sketch feature through the dashboard.

In a similar way we did in Google Scholar, we’ll use the asterisk as a wild card in the concordance tool. We’ve seen that the preposition ‘in’ is the collocate of ‘depth’. Using the wild card will let us know if there are other words eligible to place between this typical collocation. Click here to see the results and note that this time we are not using quotation marks.