This website allows you to quickly and easily search the 100 million word British National Corpus (1970s-1993). The BNC was originally created by Oxford University Press in the 1980s - early 1990s, and now exists in various versions on the web. Note that our version of the BNC was recently updated, and it now uses the CLAWS 7 tagset.
If you find this version of the BNC useful, you may also be interested in other corpora that have been created by Mark Davies of Brigham Young University, including the 450 million word Corpus of Contemporary American English (1990-2010) and the 400+ million word Corpus of Historical American English (1810-2009).
As with some other BNC interfaces, you can search for words and phrases by exact word or phrase, wildcard or part of speech, or combinations of these. You can also search for surrounding words (collocates) within a ten-word window (e.g. all nouns somewhere near paper, all adjectives near woman, or all nouns near spin).
With this architecture and interface, you can also easily find the frequency of words and phrases in any combination of registers that you define (spoken, academic, poetry, medical, etc). In addition, you can compare between registers -- for example, verbs that are more common in legal or medical texts, or nouns near break that are more common in fiction than in academic writing.
You can also easily carry out semantically-based queries of the corpus. For example, you can contrast and compare the collocates of two related words (little/small, rob/steal, men/women), to determine the difference in meaning or use between these words. You can find the frequency and distribution of synonyms for nearly 60,000 words and also compare their frequency in different registers, and also use these word lists as part of other queries. Finally, you can easily create your own lists of semantically-related words, and then use them directly as part of the query.
Please feel free to take a
five minute guided tour, which will show the major features of the
corpus. A simple click for each query will automatically fill in
the form for you, search through the 100 million words of text, and then
display the results.