Teachers and librarians alike tout Google Book Search and Google itself as fast, easy ways to check for plagiarism. Just do a phrase search for a distinctive sentence or long phrase. If you get a match, you should check further for likely plagiarism. With more than 10 million digitized books and billions of other text sources, and with phrase searching that can accept long phrases, it's a good first step (if only a first step). The author has seen 2,600 to 6,000 words cited as the minimum vocabulary to communicate effectively in English, but most people probably use much larger vocabularies lit writing. If you're suspicious that a clumsy plagiarist has cut-and-pasted without paraphrasing, almost any medium-length sentence may suggest you should check further. It could be entirely innocent.
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