This tutorial will look at ways to make more specific search terms by using wildcards in Antconc.

So you have found an interesting word to focus on… a verb perhaps. The problem is verbs have more than one form. The verb “play”, for example, also has forms such as “plays” (the thirds person singular), “playing” (the continuous tense), and “played” (the past tense and past participle). But how do you search for it in a single search?

The asterisk (*) wildcard
If I now enter play with an asterisk immediately after it as in play* into the search term box it will search for any word which begins with play, including plays, playing and played. However another problem occurs. By using the wildcard also finds, player, playboy, playful, etc if they are in the corpus. This problem can be solved by deleting the lines (please read the “readme.txt” file to learn how to do this).

It is also possible to put the asterisk in a different location in the word. For example, if you want to search for verbs ending with ~ing then you can use the wildcard like this: *ing. This will bring up all words that end in ~ing.

The vertical bar (|) wildcard
What if the example verb you are looking at is irregular (example: eat, eats, eating, ate, and eaten)? It can be solved with this wildcard. If you entered “eat*|ate|eaten” then you will get all of these plus “eatable” if it is there in the corpus.

Please read the “readme.txt” to learn about other wildcards available in the program.

Congratulations! You now know how to make more sophisticated searches.

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