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I'm wondering if there is a tool that can provide the answer to questions like the following:

  • What are common adverbs used to describe thinking?
  • What is the most common adjective used to describe a knoll?

With answers like ("fast", "slow", "hard") and "grassy".

Things like google ngrams, or simply googling can be very useful in establishing a popularity ranking between two or more options, but I can't think of a way to adapt them to start from scratch.

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    The usual tool is Key Word In Context (KWIC) presentation. If you're dealing with tagged corpora, there are others. Everything depends on your data, its formatting, and what (you think) you're looking for. Another option is to use example sentences from the OED for (e.g) knoll to find instances (it certainly won't cover everything, but it'll show a lot of oddities). – John Lawler Apr 15 at 16:44
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    A collocations dictionary will give strong to medium collocations. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 15 at 16:54
  • Google NGrams is great for this. How does it not do it for you? What do you mean start from scratch? – Mitch Apr 17 at 12:21
  • Use * in the search. See books.google.com/ngrams/… – Xanne Apr 18 at 1:48

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