How to make Google your English Teacher

How to make Google your English Teacher
Thursday 30 July 2009

Google is a very popular search engine, but did you know that it could also serve as a Tutor? Click here to download a 5-page guide, or scroll down to preview a few tips from the guide itself.


1. Did I say that the right way?

There are often several ways to say the same thing in English. So, how do you know if the way you are phrasing your sentences is correct? I would suggest that you compare various sentences in Google and pick the sentence that is most popular among the search results.

For example, I searched the sentence “What do you mean by that?” on Google and received 489,000 search results. I then looked up the sentence “What is it that you mean?” and found 74,300 search results. From this comparison, I would deduce that “What do you mean by that?” is generally more widely used as an English expression than “What is it that you mean?”

2. Should I say that over here?”

Thanks to the movie “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” the phrase “Yeah Baby!” has become a popular slang phrase in America. Is this generally accepted slang in Italy? What about the United Kingdom? What about Russia?

To investigate this, I searched the phrase “Yeah Baby” and ask Google to only return search results from pages in certain locales. For example, the command site:uk only returns web pages that are hosted in the United Kingdom.

“Yeah Baby” site:uk returned 37,000 search results from the United Kingdom.
“Yeah Baby” site:it returned 5,520 search results from Italy.
“Yeah Baby” site:ru returned 17.900 search results from Russia.

So, from this experiment, I would ascertain that the phrase “Yeah Baby” is more popular in the United Kingdom than Russia and much more popular than in Italy.

Make sense?

3. Is there a word missing?

By using an asterix in a sentence, Google will assume that a word is missing and search for phrases that it thinks fills in that blank. For example…

By searching, How are you * today?

Google returns search results that includes:

* “How are you doing today?”
* “How are you feeling today?”
* “How are you guys today?”
* “How are you coping today?”

Click here to see for yourself and pay attention to the phrases that are bolded.

4. Is there another word I could use?

By using Google’s Tilde command (~), you can find words that Google thinks is synonymous to the word you are searching for. For example, if I wanted to find words that are similar and/or associated with “coffee,” I would perform the following search:


Click here to see the results. What you will notice is that certain words are bolded and these are the keywords to focus on. In this case, these keywords include: Starbucks, Starbucks Cofee, caffeine and cafe.

These are just a few tips, let me know what you think?