practice searches

This page is for if you want to try your hands at a few searches to get a better idea of how the HUGE database works in practice.


The practice searches start with relatively straightforward searches and progress to more complicated ones. These aim to cover all the parts and features of the Query menu, so there is at least one about each part of it. They will illustrate how to work with different queries and how to combine them using logical operators, and how to work with the tags. The practice searches will also illustrate whether and how usage problems are discussed in different times and by whom, and what differences there are in the discussion of usage problems between British and American English.

As a jumping-off point for these practice searches, we will use eight well-known usage problems: ain’t, between you and I, the dangling participle, literally, the split infinitive, that/which, very unique, and who/whom.

It is recommended that you look at the user manual before trying to answer the questions below. The manual explains the search module of the HUGE database with example searches that will help you with the practice questions here. If you don’t have access to the database yet, you can request this here. You can also leave feedback on your experience with the HUGE database.

Note that sometimes there may be more than one way of getting to the same answer, and that sometimes there is no ‘easy’ answer. Also not that some of the questions are ambiguously put; this was done on purpose. This is to make you aware of the possibilities of what you can search for and how. Consequently, there may be more than one ‘right’ answer.

We hope your enjoy working with the database!

Search questions

  1. How many usage guides discuss all of the eight usage problems mentioned above?
  2. In what period is the usage problem ain’t discussed in usage guides?
  3. Does the usage problem very unique occur more often in British or American usage guides?
  4. Which British authors have written usage guides that deal with American English?
  5. How many entries about the dangling participle are in the HUGE database?
  6. How many entries are specifically about between you and I?
  7. Which usage problems are about personal pronouns?
  8. How many secondary sources (‘references’) in the HUGE database discuss the split infinitive?
  9. Which percentage of British usage guide authors discuss the usage problem literally? Which percentage of American authors?
  10. How many authors of either a usage guide or secondary source are neither British nor American?
  11. Which usage guide has the most entries on flat adverbs?


Try creating a spreadsheet that has all the complete entries about the usage problem data is/are in it. It should also include the title and edition of the usage guides that the entries appear in, as well as the names of the author or editor of the guides.