Wiktionary:Example sentences

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What example sentences are[edit]

An "example sentence" is a sentence written to demonstrate usage of a particular word in context. An example sentence is invented by its writer to show how to use a particular word properly in writing. Such examples are placed following a given definition, to make it clear which definition they illustrate. Examples sentences are colloquially referred to as 'usexes', a blend of use + example. The name of the template {{ux}} is an initialism from the same phrase.

Examples sentences are distinct from quotations, or citations, which are taken from a published source, rather than invented by a Wiktionary editor.

Writing good examples[edit]

Writing an example sentence is easier than writing a definition, but still requires some thought.

Natural examples : You should aim to write sentences that illustrate a common usage of the word. The sentence should sound totally natural, and you should be able to imagine a situation in which it would be used.

Short and simple : Try to avoid writing lengthy example sentences. There should be just enough information to clearly present the word's use, without additional material that may confuse English learners. A simple sentence, with a single verb, is usually preferable to a lengthy one that includes additional clauses.

Clear context : While "He painted the annex white." is a valid sentence, it does not give any illustration about what an annex is. Many things can be painted white, so this example does not differentiate an annex from other objects. A better sentence would be "They are building an annex to extend the kitchen", as this implies that an annex is often used to mean an extension to a house.

Avoid additional jargon : Care should be taken that example sentences for rare or technical terms avoid including additional rare or technical terms. The sentence "The septum partitioned the ovary into locules." does demonstrate context for the word septum, but the average user would probably have to look up locule, ovary, and possibly even partitioned. Example sentences should contain as few of the related technical terms as possible, yet still give an example which confers as much meaning as possible. A better example for septum might be: "The two chambers inside the nose are separated by a septum."

Be friendly : Remember that your sentence will be read by a total stranger. You should write it so that it is unlikely to offend or embarrass anyone. Although some offensive or explicit words will require a sentence that demonstrates those qualities, most terms are normally used in everyday contexts, and the examples should reflect that.

Formatting examples[edit]

For English words:

# Definition of building in normal font.
#: ''Example sentence in italics, with '''building''' made bold.''.

For non-English words in the Latin alphabet:

# Definition of bonjour, a French word
#: ''An italic French example containing a bold '''Bonjour'''.''
#:: An English translation of the sentence with '''hello''' in bold.

For non-English words in non-Latin alphabets:

#: ''This is an example sentence using '''word''' in non-Latin script.''
#:: This is a transcription of the above example sentence into the Latin alphabet.
#:: This is an English translation of the above example sentence, with '''word''' in bold.


This is a template to assist in formatting example sentences. It is not required, but its use is recommended for non-English examples since it improves accessibility. It also provides automatic transliteration and options to add translations and qualifiers. See the {{ux}} documentation for more.

For English words:

# Definition of building in normal font.
#: {{ux|en|Example sentence (not in italics), with '''building''' made bold.}}

For non-English words in the Latin alphabet:

# Definition of bonjour, a French word 
#: {{ux|fr|Example sentence (not in italics), with '''bonjour''' made bold.
|translation=An English translation of the sentence with '''hello''' in bold.}}

For non-English words in non-Latin alphabets:

# Definition of বোন, a Bengali word
#: {{ux|bn|Example sentence (not in italics), with '''বোন''' made bold.
|translation=An English translation of the sentence with no bold words and no italics.
|tr=This is a transcription of the above example sentence into the Latin alphabet, with '''word''' in bold. It is usually automatically provided but can be manually specified if needed.}}

Language specific templates[edit]

A few languages use specialized templates to format usage examples:

Request an example: {{rfex}}[edit]

You can add a request for a usage example with {{rfex}}, it is used in place of the example:

# A definition missing a usage example.
#: {{rfex|en}}

The first parameter is required and specifies the language code of the current section. It will automatically populate the category “English requests for example sentences”.

Official policy[edit]

From Wiktionary:Entry layout explained:

Generally, every definition should be accompanied by a quotation illustrating the definition. If no quotation can be found, it is strongly encouraged to create an example sentence. Example sentences should:

  • be grammatically complete sentences, beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
  • be placed immediately after the applicable numbered definition, and before any quotations associated with that specific definition.
  • be italicized, with the defined term boldfaced.
  • be as brief as possible while still clarifying the sense of the term. (In rare cases, examples consisting of two brief sentences may work best.)
  • be indented using the “#:” command placed at the start of the line.
  • for languages in non-Latin scripts, a transcription is to be given in the line below, with an additional level of indentation: “#::”.
  • for languages other than English, a translation is to be given in the line below (i.e. below the sentence or below the transcription), with an additional level of indentation: “#::”, and with the translation of the defined term boldfaced.
  • not contain wikilinks (the words should be easy enough to understand without additional lookup)

The goal of the example sentences is the following, which is to be kept in mind when making one up:

  1. To place the term in a context in which it is likely to appear, addressing level of formality, dialect, etc.
  2. To provide notable collocations, particularly those that are not idiomatic.
  3. To select scenarios in which the meaning of the example itself is clear.
  4. To illustrate the meaning of the term to the extent that a definition is obtuse.
  5. To exemplify varying grammatical frames that are well understood, especially those that may not be obvious, for instance relying on collocation with a preposition.[1]

Unofficial policy[edit]

Example sentences may be replaced by citations and can be removed when citations for the given definition are already present. This is in part because of redundancy, in part because the server automatically hides citations starting with the wikisyntax #*. Example sentences cause these to appear a further line below the definition for every example given.

However, where an example sentence provides a usage example not covered by the quotations present and useful for readers, it should not be removed.