This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page.
It should not be modified without discussion and consensus. Any substantial or contested changes require a VOTE.[1]
Policies – Entries: CFI - EL - NORM - NPOV - QUOTE - REDIR - DELETE. Languages: LT - AXX. Others: BLOCK - BOTS - VOTES.

The phrasebook is a set of criteria for inclusion of Wiktionary entries words and phrases in all languages, based on utility, simplicity and commonality. The phrasebook also refers to any set of terms that meet these criteria.

Criteria for inclusion

Wiktionary is a dictionary of all words in all languages. To further define and limit which terms merit Wiktionary entries, there is the overall policy of criteria for inclusion.

Phrasebook entries are supported in the criteria of inclusion by a passage dedicated to them in the section "Idiomaticity"; they may not meet the requirement of idiomacity other than for the dedicated passage.


The phrasebook is made up of entries in the main namespace for common phrases in various languages, even if these phrases are semantic sums of parts such as "I love you", "what is your name?" and "how much is it?".

For example, I love you is a very common phrase in English. Although entirely comprehensible from the sum of its parts, putting "I love you" in the phrasebook allows the user to look up the translation into many languages.


Subject and object

For simplicity reasons, when a grammatical subject is necessary for a phrasebook entry, it is the speaker; similarly, when a grammatical object is necessary, it is the interlocutor.

For example, "I love you" is a proper phrasebook entry; on the other hand, "he loves her", "she loves me" and "they love everybody" are not.

Note: Some exceptions, such as "he's unconscious", may be kept, depending on the context.


When possible, orders and requests should always be accompanied by please, or its foreign language counterparts, in phrasebook entries.


Abbreviations (e.g. I'm = I am) are accepted if they are common, e.g. I'm hungry.

Numbers must be written as words, e.g. I'm twenty years old, not "I'm 20 years old"; but quotations with a number are sufficient for a phrasebook entry to merit inclusion.

Incomplete sentences

While most phrasebook titles are related to complete sentences such as I love you and I'm hungry, there are some concepts which may be expanded through various possibilities, like I'm ... year(s) old for any age as opposed to specific ages. Other examples are how do you say...in English and my name is, which also serve as guides to how different words could fit into these phrases.


The specific groups of entries that may or may not be added into the Wiktionary phrasebook are still subject of controversy. Categories of phrasebook entries to be accepted in English as well as other languages include:

  1. Basic etiquette.
    Examples: thank you very much, excuse me, I'm sorry.
  2. Greetings.
    Examples: hello, good evening, how are you?.
  3. Bodily states.
    Examples: I'm hungry, I'm tired, I'm bleeding, I'm sick.
  4. Bodily characteristics.
    Examples: I'm allergic to aspirin, I'm blind.
  5. Personal information.
    Examples: I'm married, are you married?, do you have children?, what is your phone number?.
  6. Communication.
    Examples: please say that again, please speak more slowly, please repeat after me.
  7. Proficiency in specific languages.
    Examples: I don't speak English, do you speak English?.
    Treatment: These phrases are accepted when expressing proficiency in common languages such as English, Spanish, Portuguese and German. Rare or extinct languages such as Middle French, Sogdian and Suppyire are not accepted. A common criterion of commonness is whether these phrases may be attested by three independent sources as described by CFI.
  8. Commerce.
    Examples: do you accept credit cards?, how much is it?
  9. Places and directions.
    Examples: how do I get to the airport?, where does this bus go?, please turn right.
  10. Warnings.
    Examples: caution – slippery when wet, high voltage, please keep out!


Sets of phrasebook entries may be linked in appendices, usually organized by language or by subject; there is also the more extreme suggestion of moving all phrasebook contents from entries into appendices.

A phrasebook entry should be categorized in the related phrasebook category of its language: Category:English phrasebook, Category:German phrasebook and so on. There are also subdivisions such as Category:English phrasebook/Emergencies.


All English phrasebook entries shall contain a ===Translations=== section. As usual, this section may optionally consist of only a soft-redirect using {{trans-see}}. The following applies to the entries where this is not the case:

If, for a given phrase, there exists at least one language in which the phrase can be expressed in a polite as well as a familiar register, two translation boxes, glossed as {{trans-top|familiar}} and {{trans-top|polite}} respectively, shall be provided (in this order). Translations into languages that don't feature this distinction for this phrase shall be supplemented identically to both boxes. If, for a given phrase, no language makes this distinction, only one translation box without a gloss, i.e. {{trans-top}}, shall be provided. For phrases that are inherently nonpolite or for ones that are almost exclusively uttered in polite contexts, only one translation box, {{trans-top|familiar}} or {{trans-top|polite}} respectively shall be provided.

Plural forms must not be provided as translations, unless this is inherently necessary due to the nature of the phrase (for example, thank you all), or editors have collaboratively decided to include plural translations for an individual phrase. If, for a certain phrase, both singular as well as plural forms are to be documented, the translation boxes as prescribed by the above paragraph shall be duplicated with singular and plural prepended to the gloss respectively.

For entries with multiple senses, the above rules apply on a per-sense basis with a short gloss of the sense prepended to the prescribed translation box title.

If a translation of a phrase depends on the natural gender of one person, the corresponding gender must be denoted using the designated argument of {{t}}. If a translation depends on the genders of multiple persons (as may be the case for certain languages with polypersonal agreement), the corresponding language's editor community should decide how to best document this. For languages that feature an orthogonal formal / informal distinction in addition to the familiar / polite distinction, the treatment of those forms is also to be decided upon by those languages' editor communities.


Votes relating to phrasebook:


Discussions about the Phrasebook in the Beer Parlour:

See also this search: for "phrasebook" in Beer parlour archive.

See also