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The Spanish Dictionary Guide for Learners

What Is the Best Spanish Dictionary?

 

An excellent Spanish to English dictionary is an essential tool when you're learning Spanish.

 

Whether you're still just starting to learn Spanish or are already quite advanced in Spanish, you'll need a dictionary at some point. 

 

In this article, we will discuss the both physical books and apps:

 

Books:

  • Best dictionary for learning vocabulary 
  • Best Spanish To English dictionary
  • Best Spanish-Spanish dictionary

 

Apps:

  • Best online dictionary
  • Best automatic translators with dictionary functions

 

Physical books

 

The best dictionary for learning Spanish vocabulary.

 

The MostUsedWords Spanish frequency dictionaries provide learners with the most common words in the Spanish language. Out of the roughly 300.000 words that make up the Spanish language, you will only use the top 2500, 90% of all time. 

 

There are certainly diminishing results to be had, because the top 10.000 words will get you to understand 98% of all spoken language, and 97% of all Spanish texts. 

 

So, if you're learning Spanish, you want to know the most common words first. Enter our frequency dictionaries. These dictionaries provide you with practical Spanish vocabulary lists, based on how often you'll encounter the word. The books give you:

 

  • A general frequency list, so you can learn the most used Spanish words
  • Frequency lists of parts of speech: The most common Spanish adjectives, adverbs, nouns, verbs, etc.
  • An A-Z Spanish dictionary in the back, so you can look up Spanish words easily.

 

All Spanish entries contain:

 

  • Their English translation(s)
  • Detailed Part of Speech information
  • IPA phonetic pronunciation, so you'll always know how to pronounce Spanish words correctly.
  • Spanish to English example sentences, so you can see the vocabulary being used in context.

 

 

The Spanish frequency dictionaries are available from Amazon in Paperback or as PDF eBooks from our website. They're broken up into fours books, for a total of the most common 10.000 words.

 

  • Spanish Frequency Dictionary - Essential Vocabulary - Top 2500 Most Common Spanish Words
  • Spanish Frequency Dictionary - Intermediate Vocabulary - 2501-2500 Most Common Spanish Words
  • Spanish Frequency Dictionary - Advanced Vocabulary - Top 5001-7500 Most Common Spanish words
  • Spanish Frequency Dictionary - Master Vocabulary - Top 7501-10000 Most Common Spanish Words

 

 

These frequency dictionaries are excellent for those who study Spanish by themselves or in a classroom setting. They are convenient tools if you're looking to build your practical vocabulary quickly. 

 

The drawbacks are that they do not contain all Spanish words, only the 10.000 most common ones. Although, these are good for 98% of all your Spanish language needs. The books also do not touch down on grammar. 

 

Best Comprehensive Spanish-English dictionary for Learners

 

Both Collins and Oxford have quite comprehensive dictionaries for learners. They both include grammar references, which is great. Both are trusted brands. They are available from Amazon in paperback, or you can use their websites for free. 

 

These traditional dictionaries list their Spanish vocabulary from A-Z and have around 120.000 entries each. They are a great companion if you need to lookup more uncommon words. Their strength lies in thematic vocabulary lists and grammar explanations. 

 

Best Spanish-Spanish Dictionary

 

If you're currently very advanced or looking for a dictionary for academic purposes, take a look at the Diccionario de la Lengua Espanola. It is also available from Amazon in paperback

 

It is the most comprehensive and authoritative dictionary on the Spanish language. It has been recording the Spanish language for centuries and determines what is considered "correct" in Spanish. 

 

You can divide this dictionary into multiple sections. For example, there is a regular comprehensive A-Z dictionary. You'll also find an area where they give opinions based on debatable Spanish linguistic issues and a section with a legal dictionary.

 

If you're starting to learn Spanish, this resource might not be for you. If you're studying Spanish in an academic setting, or are a native-like expat and want to increase your fluency further, then this resource is for you.

 

Online Spanish Dictionaries & Apps

 

If you need to look up a Spanish word rapidly, an online dictionary will be your best friend. The drawback of physical dictionaries is that you cannot look up terms as quickly as possible online. 

 

If you're going to the internet for advice, please be aware that not all Spanish dictionaries are the same. Their varied features mean that they can be perfect for some types of situations but not so great in other aspects. Below, we have listed our recommendations for a few Spanish dictionaries that can meet a variety of needs.

 

Best All-Round Dictionary (including Conjugations!): WordReference

 

Chances are that if you've ever taken a Spanish class, someone has probably already recommended Wordreference to you. We think it's the best all-round Spanish dictionary for a lot of different situations. 

 

The Wordreference website provides translations from English to Spanish and from Spanish to English. It also includes information about verb conjugations, which is pretty neat. It will also give you information about how Spanish words are used in context. 

 

And as a bonus for ya'll hardcore language learners, it allows you to use a Spanish-only dictionary to keep you immersed in the language. This is very useful if you want to avoid English completely. 

 

Another cool feature: it has audio playback in European Spanish, Mexican, and Argentinian accents. 

 

A drawback of Wordreference is the UI. It is straight out of the '90s, and it would deserve a significant overhaul. If you do care for aesthetics, the following dictionary might be more suited for you.

 

Best Dictionary For Assisted Learning: SpanishDict

 

For a more up-to-date, user-friendly interface, check out SpanishDict. It is a well-designed website, that guides learners to the right direction.

 

When you look up a word, this website provides:

 

  • the English definition(s)
  • phonetic pronunciation
  • synonyms
  • example sentences that the word appears in. 

 

The website also gives resources that go beyond a simple dictionary. THis makes it pretty great for learners: SpanishDict has vocabulary lists, pronunciation guides, grammar tips, and much more. If you want to get the most out of SpanishDict, there is also a paid version that can give you even more supervision while you're learning the language.

 

 

Best Dictionary For Real Spoken Spanish and Slang: tuBabel

 

Once in a while, the dictionary isn't going to be able to translate something for you. Usually, that's because it's slang that is too new or too inappropriate to have been written down in a proper dictionary. 

 

Luckily, there's tuBabel. TuBabel is kind of like the Urban Dictionary for Spanish. Rather than being made by linguistic experts, tuBabel is created by user-generated content. The dictionary consists entirely of entries written by random people. Kind of like Wikipedia.

 

It's worth keeping that in mind when you're searching here: just because someone claims something online, that doesn't mean it's true. 

 

The website also divides its words and phrases by country, so you can find the slang that best suits your demands. 

 

 

On that note, because it's unfiltered slang, some parts of the website can be a little coarse.

 

If you want to avoid NSFW terms, you can change the website from Diablito (little demon) to Angelito (little angel). The Angelito versions will be a bit cleaner.

 

Most Popular Spanish Translator: Google Translate

 

You probably already know about Google Translate. It is both fantastic and dangerous. If it works, it is excellent. If it doesn't work as advertised, you end up with an awkward sentence or a nonsensical translation.

 

Here are some tips to get the best out of Google Translate:

 

First, it's best to use Google Translate for a single word, a few words or a short phrase rather than a (very) long sentence. As your Spanish input gets more complex, the site's AI is more likely to make mistakes. 

 

Secondly, you can also be (a bit more) assured that a translation is pretty accurate if you see a shield symbol appear next to it. The shield means that the translation has been certified by an actual human. 

 

Lastly, don't just look at the first result that Google Translate gives you. More information given below will often include other possible translations of the same word. These alternative translations might make more sense regarding your specific context.

 

Best Neural AI Online Spanish Translator

 

If you're looking for a better translator than Google Translate, take a look at these new AI-powered translators. They both come with a build-in dictionary. Or, at least the paid versions do. 

 

  • DEEPL
  • Lingvanex

 

These translations are more accurate than Google Translate, but will still make errors. The paid versions are definitely worth considering if you need them for work or school. 

 

So, What Is The Best Spanish Dictionary?

 

That depends entirely on your situation. If you need to learn relevant vocabulary quickly, get a Spanish frequency dictionary. 

 

If you need a general use dictionary with grammar and many terms, get a traditional dictionary for learners.

 

If you're looking for free ways to learn Spanish, or just to quickly look up terms, check out SpanishDict and Wordreference. 

 

If you need to get definitions or translate a sentence or two, check out Google Translate. If you need accurate translations for a lot of text, check out Lingvanex or DeepL.


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