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BNC Simple Search

The BNC Simple Search is a quick and simple way to search the full BNC for a word or a phrase. More complex searches can also be performed, as illustrated further below. This service is particularly useful for those who want to see whether a word occurs in the BNC, check the spelling of a word, compare different variants to see which is more frequent and so on.

The result of a search is displayed as a list of up to 50 randomly selected instances headed by a note of the total frequency of the search string. A new search for the same string will generate a different set of randomly selected examples. The source of each example can be checked by clicking on the text code preceding each line.

In addition to just finding a word or phrase, the Simple Search service can also be used for more complex queries. Use the _ character to match any single word, for example bread _ butter finds bread and butter, bread or butter, bread with butter, etc. Use the = character to restrict searches by part of speech, for example house=VVB finds only verbal uses of house. Use braces { and } to enclose a regular expression, for example {s[iau]ng} finds sing, sang or sung.

For further information on how to make an advanced search using the Simple Search service, see the description of the BNC Corpus Query Language. A list of the part of speech codes is also available separately.

The BNC Simple search can also be accessed using the search box above, and on the BNC homepage.

This service is provided for free by the British Library. Please note that neither the University of Oxford nor the British Library receives funding for this service, and while we will continue to make our best efforts to maintain and support it, we cannot guarantee that it will be running at all in times, and we cannot answer user queries about the service. If the service is not working, try one of the other free online services listed here.

General queries about using corpora can be addressed to the Corpora email discussion list.

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