Most common words in English

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This list of the most common words in English has been produced by Oxford University Press. By "words" is meant dictionary head words or lemmas.

It is based on an analysis of a body of over a billion words. It represents a study done by Oxford Online, associated with the Oxford English Dictionary.[1]

This source includes writings of all sorts from "literary novels and specialist journals to everyday newspapers and magazines and from Hansard to the language of chatrooms, emails, and weblogs",[1] unlike some sources which use texts from only specific sources.[2]

The Reading Teachers Book of Lists claims that the first 25 words make up about one-third of all printed material in English, and that the first 100 make up about one-half of all written material.[3]

Note that the items listed may represent more than one actual word; they are lemmas. For instance the entry "be" contains within it the occurrences of "are", "is", "were" and "was".[4] Note also that these top 100 lemmas listed below account for 50% of all the words in the Oxford English Corpus.[1]

Top100 words[change | change source]

Rank Word
1 the
2 be
3 to
4 of
5 and
6 a
7 in
8 that
9 have
10 I
Rank Word
11 it
12 for
13 not
14 on
15 with
16 he
17 as
18 you
19 do
20 at
Rank Word
21 this
22 but
23 his
24 by
25 from
26 they
27 we
28 say
29 her
30 she
Rank Word
31 or
32 an
33 will
34 my
35 one
36 all
37 would
38 there
39 their
40 what
Rank Word
41 so
42 up
43 out
44 if
45 about
46 who
47 get
48 which
49 go
50 me
Rank Word
51 when
52 make
53 can
54 like
55 time
56 no
57 just
58 him
59 know
60 take
Rank Word
61 person
62 into
63 year
64 your
65 good
66 some
67 could
68 them
69 see
70 other
Rank Word
71 than
72 then
73 now
74 look
75 only
76 come
77 its
78 over
79 think
80 also
Rank Word
81 back
82 after
83 use
84 two
85 how
86 our
87 work
88 first
89 well
90 way
Rank Word
91 even
92 new
93 want
94 because
95 any
96 these
97 give
98 day
99 most
100 us


Source: [1]

Parts of speech[change | change source]

In parentheses are their position in the overall list. Some words are not listed here because they can be used as more than one part of speech. The lists show clearly that 'function' words, like prepositions and connectives, are more common than 'content' words, like nouns, and most verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Verbs like "to be" have both content and linguistic functions.

Nouns[change | change source]

  1. time (55)
  2. person (61)
  3. year (63)
  4. way (90)
  5. day (98)
  6. thing
  7. man
  8. world
  9. life
  10. hand
  11. part
  12. child
  13. eye
  14. woman
  15. place
  16. work
  17. week
  18. case
  19. point
  20. company
  21. number

Verbs[change | change source]

  1. be (2)
  2. have (9)
  3. do (19)
  4. say (28)
  5. get (47)
  6. make
  7. go
  8. know
  9. take
  10. see
  11. come
  12. think
  13. look
  14. want
  15. give
  16. use
  17. find
  18. tell
  19. ask
  20. work
  21. seem
  22. feel
  23. try
  24. leave
  25. call

Adjectives[change | change source]

  1. good (65)
  2. first (88)
  3. new (92)
  4. last ()
  5. long ()
  6. great
  7. little
  8. own
  9. other
  10. old
  11. right
  12. big
  13. high
  14. different
  15. small
  16. large
  17. next
  18. early
  19. young
  20. important
  21. few
  22. public
  23. bad
  24. same
  25. able

Prepositions[change | change source]

  1. to (3)
  2. of (4)
  3. in (7)
  4. for (12)
  5. on (14)
  6. with
  7. at
  8. by
  9. from
  10. up
  11. about
  12. into
  13. over
  14. after

Source: [1]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 AskOxford.com: Language Facts. Retrieved June 22, 2006.
  2. Top 1000 words in UK English.
  3. The First 100 Most Commonly Used English Words.
  4. Benjamin Zimmer. 22 June 2006. Time after time after time.... Language Log. Retrieved June 22, 2006.