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1 Introducing the English Vocabulary Profile

1.1 What is the English Vocabulary Profile?

The EVP shows, in both British and American English, which words and phrases learners around the world know at each level – A1 to C2 – of the CEFR. Rather than providing a syllabus of the vocabulary that learners should know, the EVP project verifies what they do know at each level. CEFR levels are assigned not just to the words themselves, but to each individual meaning of these words. So, for instance, the word degree is assigned level A2 for the sense TEMPERATURE, B1 for QUALIFICATION, B2 for AMOUNT and C2 for the phrase a/some degree of (sth). The capitalized guidewords help the user to navigate longer entries, and phrases are listed separately within an entry.

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

1.2 Why is the EVP important to me?

Whether you're a teacher, an exam writer, a materials developer or a researcher, if you work with learners of English studying at any level from beginner to advanced (A1-C2), you'll find the EVP helpful in a variety of ways, for example:

  • To check the level of each meaning of a word or a phrase

    Words with multiple meanings are very common in English. For example, keep is in the top 500 words most frequently used in English, and different meanings and uses of this verb are learned at each level. You can set priorities for learners – which meanings should they learn first? You can also check which meanings are suitable for testing at each level.

  • To identify the words or phrases a learner can be expected to know at each level

    Searching for all words and phrases at one CEFR level – for example, A1 – can help you to develop appropriate materials for your classroom, and assist you with syllabus and lesson planning.

  • To view words or phrases within a topic area

    Advanced Search in EVP allows you to search by topic – for example, Animals, Body and Health, Clothes – and shows you the relevant words and phrases at each CEFR level. This is ideal for writing materials or lesson planning, and will help you to prioritize vocabulary items for learners.

  • To look at real learner examples

    There is a learner example for almost all meanings of the words and phrases in the EVP, taken from a large corpus of learner English that includes examples at all CEFR levels and from 203 countries around the world. These examples give you a clear illustration of the word or phrase as it is used by learners, including typical contexts and collocations.

  • To search for aspects of language such as grammar, usage and word formation

    Advanced Search will help you to identify the grammatical constraints relevant to a certain level – to determine, for example, which uncountable nouns learners can be expected to know at A1, or which verbs are frequently used in the passive form at B2.

    Usage searches can help to determine register and identify formal or informal usage, which is particularly relevant at B2 level and above

    Searching for words containing different prefixes and suffixes will be useful if you're preparing exercises, as you can check the level at which related forms in a particular word family are learned.

1.3 How has the EVP been produced?

Part of the English Profile Programme, a long-term research programme sponsored by the the Council of Europe, the English Vocabulary Profile is based on extensive research using the Cambridge Learner Corpus (CLC). This is a growing collection of several hundred thousand exam scripts, written by learners from all over the world that is added to every year. Combined with solid evidence of use in many other sources related to general English, such as examination vocabulary lists and classroom materials, the CLC confirms what learners can and cannot do at each level.

The EVP has also been informed by the Cambridge English Corpus, a multi-billion word collection of current spoken and written current English, covering British, American and other varieties.

Additional sources for the C levels research have included reference lists relevant to academic English and frequency data on idioms. The EVP is a work in progress. Its aim is to reflect what learners do know, not what they should know. If you see something in the EVP that doesn't reflect your own teaching experience, please let us know. The more people contribute, the better the EVP will be!

2 British and American English

To get started, select British English or American English by clicking on a tab at the top of the Search panel.

British English and American English tabs

British English is selected as default. IF you search for a word that is not in the variety of English that you have selected but is in the other variety, the program will tell you so and show a link to that entry. For example, if you search for vacation in British English, you will be directed to the entry for vacation in American English, as this word is only listed in the American English version.

3 Search

3.1 Browsing a list of words from a particular level

To browse the list of words, phrases and phrasal verbs from a particular level, choose a level. The A1-C2 list is selected by default.

Choose level

Then click on Browse A-Z, below.

Browse link

The list of entries and sub-entry ranges for the first letter is displayed alphabetically.

List of entries and subentries ranges

To view the list of entries and sub-entries for another letter, select the appropriate letter from the list. Note that in this version, only the letters D, J and K are available.

Letters list

To view the list of words from each range, select the appropriate range. Then click on any result to display its entries.

3.2 Looking up a word

Type a word or phrase into the search box on the left and then either click on the Search button or press the Return key.

Remember to search for words starting with the letters D, J and K only.

All matching results are shown in the main screen area.

The closest matching words are displayed at the top of the results list in alphabetical order under the 'Core results' header. All other results are shown underneath.

Click on the result you would like to see and the dictionary entry will be shown. If you click on an individual meaning or phrase in the Core results, you will go directly to that part of the entry – this is useful for entries for words with several meanings and phrases.

The symbols and other information that are shown for each word are explained in point 4. You can click on the browser Back button to go back to your original search results list.

If you search for an inflected form of a word, such as ‘kept’, the root form ‘keep’ will be displayed.

3.3 Searching with wildcards

Wildcards are symbols that represent letters or other characters. They are used to search for words that you don’t know how to spell, or words with particular endings or combinations of letters.

There are two wildcards that you can use:

Symbol Meaning
? Represents one letter or character.
* Represents any number of letters or characters, including none.

Wildcards can be typed in anywhere in a word to help you find the word you want.

For example:

If you type di?t in the search box, and click on the Search button, the words ‘diet’, ‘dirt’ and so on are displayed in the middle panel.

If you type do* into the search box, and on the Search button, you will find all the words beginning with ‘do’, including the word ‘do’ itself.

3.4 Advanced Search

To find groups of words with particular features, click on the Advanced Search box:

Advanced Search box

The list of advanced search options will be displayed. You can choose what you want to search for by selecting specific labels from the drop-down menus, then click on the Search button. The list of dictionary results matching your search is shown in the main screen area.

Below, you can find an explanation of each list:

Group Explanation
Category Choose to search only words, phrases, phrasal verbs or idioms.
Part of speech Choose to search single parts of speech, such as adjectives, adverbs or plural nouns.
Grammar Choose to search only a particular area of grammar, such as countable nouns or transitive verbs.
Usage Choose to search only words used in a certain way, such as formal or informal.
Topic Choose to search only words that are found in a particular topic, such as Food and drink or Clothes.
Prefixes Choose to search only words that start with prefixes, such as dis-.
Suffixes Choose to search only words that end with suffixes, such as

You can click Clear filters to begin a new search.

You do not need to specify an item in the Search box as leaving it blank will return all possible matches. However, do remember to set the level range to the one you want.

If you want to search only for entries that include a particular word, type the word in the box above the drop down lists, then click on the Search button. The list of dictionary results matching your search is shown in the main screen area.

3.5 Results list

The results list for all searches is shown in the main screen area.

If the search box is empty and you are looking for the list of words from a particular level or if you are using the ‘Advanced search’ options, the list of entries and subentries will be displayed alphabetically.

If you are looking up a word, the closest matching words are displayed at the top of the results list under 'Core results' header. All other matching words are shown underneath.

If there is more than one page of results you can click on the page numbers to select a specific page.

You can also choose to display more results per page by using the drop-down menu above the middle panel.

Number of results

If no search results were found in the selected level, you'll get the appropriate information and advice about where you can find more information about the word you are searching for.

3.6 Single-click

When you are within an entry, you can click on words to look up their level and meaning.

Note that in this version, only the words starting with the letters D, J and K will be found. The list of the closest matching words in the EVP is displayed. Click on the word which best matches your query and the dictionary entry is shown. You can click on the browser Back button to go back to your original search results list. If the word you clicked is not found, you can go to Cambridge Dictionaries Online to check its meaning there.

4 Understanding dictionary entries

Dictionary entries are shown in the main screen area, when you click any result.

The headword is shown at the top of the screen followed by individual meanings, phrases and idioms, and then phrasal verbs.

When a headword has several meanings, each is indicated by a guideword in CAPITAL LETTERS.


All the meanings from the selected level are displayed in each entry and listed according to CEFR levels. Lower level meanings are given first, higher level meanings are listed below. If you selected a level range other than 'A1-C2', you can see all the results from 'A1-C2' level simply by clicking the All levels button at the top-right.

The meaning of the word is shown in plain black text and dictionary examples are shown in italics.

The button at the far top-right allows you to switch between Full view and Outline view. In Full view the Dictionary examples, Learner examples and Word family panels are all displayed; in Outline view this information is hidden.

Entries contain icons and symbols to help you understand more about the word. Hold your mouse pointer over an icon or symbol to see what it is.

Below are explanations of the different features in the dictionary entries.

4.1 Different coloured text

Example Explanation
do The headword of an entry
do sth up Phrasal verb
Arrowverb A section of the entry for a single part of speech
do the washing-up Phrase
REPAIR Guideword: this indicates the meaning for words with more than one meaning.
A1 CEFR level, Basic User, Breakthrough.
A2 CEFR level, Basic User, Waystage.
B1 CEFR level, Independent User, Threshold.
B2 CEFR level, Independent User, Vantage.
C1 CEFR level, Proficient User, Effective Operational Proficiency.
C2 CEFR level, Proficient User, Mastery.
/duː/ Pronunciation guide.
informal Usage label
(did, done) List of inflected forms
(Dr) Variant form
to perform an action or job Definition
What do you usually do at the weekend? Dictionary example
What can I do for you? Typical collocations

Cambridge Learner CorpusLearner example:
It's open daily.
Key English Test; A2; Greek

Example from the Cambridge Learner Corpus, showing the exam taken, the CEFR level and the student's first language

4.2 Speaker icons

Speaker Click to hear the pronunciation of a word.

To hear the pronunciation, you must have Adobe Flash Player installed.

4.3 Phonetic symbols

Click here to open a document in Adobe Reader explaining the phonetic symbols.

To view this document, you must have Adobe Reader installed.

4.4 Grammar symbols

Symbol Meaning
[C] Countable noun
[I] Intransitive verb
[T] Transitive verb
[U] Uncountable noun

4.5 Word family

All the words formed from a common root that are included in the EVP are displayed in a blue frame. Clicking on any of these will take you to an entry for that word. Words up to B2 level are displayed in regular type and C1/ C2 level words are shown in italics.

Word family

5 Printing

Please use the standard browser print function.

If you would like to print out the background colours for level symbols, please make sure that your browser is set to print background colours and images. The way you enable the option for printing background colors and images differs depending on which browser you're using. To check/change your default browser settings, please follow the instructions below:

Internet Explorer:
On the Tools menu, click Internet Options. Click the Advanced tab. Under Settings, scroll down until you find the Printing category. Make sure Print background colors and images is checked, and then click OK.

On the File menu, click Page Setup. On the Format & Options tab, under Options, select Print background (colors & images). Click OK.

Safari (for Mac):
On the File menu, click Print. On the Copies & Pages pop-up menu, click Safari. Select Print Backgrounds. Click OK.

6 Browser compatibility

This site is optimised for use on Firefox 3.0, Internet Explorer 6 and higher and Safari 3 for Mac.

7 Credits and acknowledgments

7.1 Editorial acknowledgments

UK Commissioning Editor: Melissa Good, Caroline Thiriau

US Commissioning Editor: Paul Heacock

Chief Research Editor: Annette Capel

US Editor: Carol-June Cassidy

Editorial Project Managers: Elizabeth Walter, Sue Ullstein

Electronic Project Managers: Dorota Bednarczyk-Krajewska, Gareth Walker

Systems Management: Dominic Glennon, Daniel Perrett

EP Project Manager: Julia Harrison

ELT Advisers: Elaine Boyd, Alejandro Martinez, Helen Naylor

Cambridge ESOL Advisers: Fiona Barker, Angeliki Salamoura

Additional analysis of phrasal expressions: Ron Martinez

Further research into phrasal verb levels: Masashi Negishi, Yukio Tono, Yoshihito Fujita

Recordings: Fraser Symon; Blue Planet Studio; dataformat; Charanga Ltd.

Graphic Design: Jamie Rusted

Additional lexicographic services: Cambridge Lexicography & Language Services Ltd.

Administrative support: Laura Howes

The following sources have been useful in checking the frequency of words and phrases in academic English:

Coxhead, A. (2000). Academic Word List.

Ellis, N & Simpson-Vlach, R (2010) An Academic formulas list: new methods in phraseology research. Applied Linguistics 31 (4) 487-512

Entries in the English Vocabulary Profile are based on the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (3rd Ed.) and the Cambridge Learner's Dictionary (3rd Ed.); the Cambridge Dictionary of American English (2nd Ed.) and the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary have been referred to for the American English version. Informed by the Cambridge English Corpus and with real-life examples of Learner English from the Cambridge Learner Corpus.

© English Profile 2011

7.2 Software acknowledgments

IDM logoSoftware © IDM S.A., France 2009

Project Management: Holger Hvelplund

Technical Management: Emmanuel Surleau

Data Processing: Emmanuel Surleau

Software Development: Emmanuel Surleau, David Gaspard and Mikaël Lebrun