excluding search

You can exclude words by using the minus sign. For instance, when searching for “pretty *” (i.e. “pretty” followed by any word) in COCA, “pretty much” is the first hit. If you’d like to exclude it, the search string “pretty -much” does the trick.

It’s even possible to exclude entire parts of speech, but only by using the old search syntax. If you change the search string to “pretty -[j*]”, adjectives such as “good” shouldn’t appear in the results anymore.

You can find complete overviews of the search syntax in the BYU interface, the Lancaster BNC interface, AntConc and regular expressions in AntConc here.