I work as a copywriter. Sometimes I have several options of a phrase and I want to check which one is more widespread and more commonly used. Surely, I can google it, but google will search everywhere and everything. I want something like a corpus that will be able to give me usage examples right away. No corpus is good for my purpose, because they usually only have bookish texts while I need live usage. Is there a service that can, say search the internet for exact phrases and give examples in the results? Tried googling, but haven't found anything of use.

Let's say I need to check "ad trackers" or "internet traffic". When I google any of the phrases, it only gives me the results that I search for, it doesn't give me any idea if it is common or not. It doesn't give me an understanding if "ad trackers" is more common as "ad trackers" or "AD trackers". It doesn't give me understanding if "internet traffic" is more commonly used as "mobile internet traffic" or "mobile traffic".

This thing kinda has the potential for all that I described above, but it's a paid service and it doesn't see any difference between upper and lower case.

This thing is free, however it only gives translation results, not the native language usage.

And while corpora are good, they have a mostly static database of texts. They change too slowly, while real language changes much quicker and richer in professional branches. Corpus is good for language research, but not for word (especially not for case) choices.

Is there something that combines everything in one and has a free plan?

  • There is 1 Google Ngram Viewer books.google.com/ngrams - for written English, and, to a lesser extent, spoken English; 2 The British National Corpus natcorp.ox.ac.uk Spoken British English 3 Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) english-corpora.org/coca Spoken American English. 4 Word Frequency - Useful in conjunction with the two corpora: wordfrequency.info/compare_bnc.asp
    – Greybeard
    Sep 4, 2020 at 8:31
  • @Greybeard books google is good, but it only shows frequency, no examples. BNC, COCA, they're all written and about official literature. I want something that can search the internet, any website. You know, like plagiarism checkers. Sep 4, 2020 at 8:42
  • 1
    Greybeard books google is good, but it only shows frequency, no examples. If you look below the graph, you will see, in most cases, hyperlinks to sets of examples divided into time periods - there are other tools available including "wild cards". You know, like plagiarism checkers. There are several free plagiarism checkers on line.
    – Greybeard
    Sep 4, 2020 at 8:53
  • @VladimirMarkiev You want the GLoWBE. You can find it on BYU along with COCA and the others.
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 4, 2020 at 9:59
  • For more Google tricks see: time.com/4116259/google-search Just saw Laurel's answer and upvoted.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 5, 2020 at 7:35
  • 1
    What about Google trends? Besides, Google books also include newspapers and magazines, not only formal, non-fiction texts but contemporary subject matters, the language used must be accessible to a large audience.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 7, 2020 at 12:45
  • @Mari-LouA, that's the best one. I remember that there was something like that. Thank you. You can post it as an answer and I will accept it as a solved. Sep 11, 2020 at 8:27

1 Answer 1


Google is usually my go to source for finding examples of specific expressions. You can enclose your expression in double quotes and it will make it match it verbatim. (Google Search’s number of hits will not be accurate however unless you go to the last page of results.) You can use the same search in the book tab to get hits in books. You can also specify a year range in Google Books which is not possible in normal search. However Google Books can be a mixed bag as you are searching both academic texts and novels that contain informal dialogue (though academic texts don’t typically come up when searching for informal expressions). Note that Google NGrams uses Google Books for its data and will even link to searches at the bottom that will be for specific time frames. Also note the limitations with Google NGrams that various people have pointed out.

You can also try a different BYU corpora, namely iWeb or GloWbE. It’s exactly the same interface as COCA/BNC but there’s a lot more words and it’s all from websites so it’s noticeably more casual usage. I used iWeb in this answer when comparing relative frequencies of different pronouns and it gave noticeably more hits than COCA (which had few to no examples) because I was looking for words that are really only used informally, on the internet. I also needed to use the powerful features (wildcard matching) of the BYU engine so Google would not have cut it here.

  • 1
    First of all, thank you for pointing out iWeb and GloWbE. As for Google and double quotes. Yes, I know how it works. But the problem is when I enclose a word in double quotes it will only search for that form, I will not be aware if there's any other form that is more common. That's the downside of google searching. And the books are just too formal and too official. Sep 7, 2020 at 8:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .