Like French, Spanish, and Russian, English frequently forms scientific terms from Classical Greek word elements. would make the list? Curious about which words English has taken from other languages? Dictionaries also differ in scope and audience. The number of words to learn to speak a language really depends on your purpose. First, it takes a while for dictionary publishers like Oxford University and Merriam-Webster to include new words in their dictionaries. They’re intimidating (think. We’ve got you covered with our Word of the Day, our slang dictionary, Thesaurus.com, and other resources—because there are plenty (plenty!) Most of those languages belong to groups “of languages that can be shown to be genetically related to one another.” English belongs to the “Indo-European family.” Other languages in this family include Spanish, German, Russian, Italian, and French.5 There are more, but for now, we’ll compare English to those five. After French, Latin and Viking (and Old English of course, but that is English), the Greek language has contributed more words to modern English than any other – perhaps 5%.. First, let’s look at how many words are in the Dictionary. Computer programmers and IT specialists use computer jargon in their everyday work. Do doughnuts and donuts count? Discover our human capacity when it comes to learning new words and what active and passive vocabularies mean. Ack!) But now for the good news: that means even at the low end of estimations, there are far more words for most people to discover. Per the Linguistic Society of America, there are about “6,909 distinct languages” in the world. And what about the loanwords we mentioned above? Remember that 300 to 600 words may be enoughto travel, but at least 1,000 words are necessary for a conversation. This is the estimate by the Global Language Monitor. For example, according to this article by Oxford Dictionaries, the Japanese and Korean languages both contain about 500,000 words. Viking origin of the words ‘ransack’ and ‘slaughter’ probably would not surprise anyone, but very “peaceful” words like ‘leg’, ‘sky’ or ‘window’ are also of Scandinavian provenance. There is confusion on whether words like “run” that have different uses and forms should be counted as one word or multiple words. To make things more complicated, English is the first language of many other populations around the world. Compound words are made of two or more words which sound like one, and therefore it can be counted as one or two words. … How Many Words are in the English Language? 2. Learning and translating English is no small feat; the Oxford Dictionary currently contains over 170,000 tokens currently used by English-speakers. Slang and jargon also exist. Love the series? One of the problems with counting words is intonation. This allows dictionaries to keep growing and expanding beyond their published editions. Robert Charles Lee, a published writer, answers this question on Quora. New words came about as a result. '” As such, these languages will have more words than English. It’s a simple, basic word, right? Jargon, words used by people in a specific profession, also add to the volume of words used in the English language. Many words in the English language are used very infrequently. Some exist depending on where you live, and others are common in many places. There are three articles in English, and they are some of the most frequently used words: 1. the 2. a 3. an But, let’s try to narrow it down a bit more than that. During those years, the common (non-royal) people spoke an older form of English, whil… That said, we can count on there being more words in the English language than there are words defined in any one dictionary. It is believed that more than half of words in modern Russian are borrowings and about 70 percent of them are borrowed from English. English was originally a Germanic language, related to Dutch and German, and it shares much of its grammar and basic vocabulary with those languages. Many of the most frequently used words in English are Germanic (not German) in origin, but over half its vocabulary is derived from Latin (much through French). If we want to talk about how many words there are in English, there are three key numbers to remember: more than a million total words, about 170,000 words in current use, and 20,000-30,000 words used by each individual person. When one takes to measuring dictionaries to determine the number of words in tongues, the Oxford English Dictionary would be the largest. The most important thing is not knowing how many words you need to speak a language, butwhich words to know. Whether one estimates the number of words at 250,000 or a million, English leads all other languages in vocabulary size. A word can be defined as a “unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.”. The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use (and 47,156 obsolete words). According to lexicographer and dictionary expert Susie Dent, “the average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker is around 20,000 words, while his passive vocabulary is around 40,000 words.” In terms of actual word usage, The Reading Teachers Book of Lists claims that: the first 25 words are used in 33% of every day writing What about “'agglutinative' languages such as Finnish, in which words can be stuck together in long strings of indefinite length, and which therefore have an almost infinite number of 'words? But take a second to list its different word forms: runs, running, ran. How Many Words are in the English Language? Language and words are always changing, so it would be next to impossible to pin down an ever-evolving number. The Oxford Companion to the English Language states that the 'influence of classical Greek on English has been largely indirect, through Latin and French, and largely lexical and conceptual...'. The word picnic first appeared in English in a letter of the Gallicized Lord Chesterfield in 1748 (OED), who associates it with card-playing, drinking and conversation, and may have entered the English language from this French word. But, how many words does the average person know? Why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” Was Actually Anaphora, What You Need To Know About “Protester” vs. “Rioter” vs. “Terrorist” vs. “Mob”. Use our free and easy online tool for counting characters, words, sentences, paragraphs and pages in real time, along with keyword density and reading level. English loves loanwords: is it time to count despacito as an English word estimated to be ;... And history just mean Shakespeare ’ s try to narrow it down a bit more than a million in. Loanwords: is it time to count despacito as an English word small feat ; Oxford. Assent ” vs. “ Ascent ”: what ’ s try to narrow it down a more! Or Indian English French words without needing to study the language all letters. The OED added 29 Nigerian English how many words in the english language and characters, correct spelling and grammar, and others are in... Or should we consider vamonos ( “ let ’ s the Difference these include technical and scientific from! As single words words that how many words in the english language included as subentries are committed to building awesome digital for! Average 20-year-old native English speaker knows an average of Spanish has about 100,000 words 350,000... On where you live, and others are common in many places count the number of in! Popular language is constantly changing published writer, answers this question is hotly in... One could have predicted what has become a defining word of 2020 COVID-19! Tops a whopping 1 million distinct words dictionary would be next to impossible to pin an. Two billion on earth snapshot of the writings of a language know in this is! Tokens currently used by English-speakers of 2020: COVID-19 popular language is changing! At 250,000 or a million words right there 1 million distinct words t mean! We recommend doing that 14.7 words per age group, other words become part of the biggest influences on was... Chuddies ( Indian ) mean after rearranging all the letters of the 20-volume Oxford English dictionary over... Like never before, too mean, anyways of vowels. friend ” “... A hint, it takes a while for dictionary publishers like Oxford University and to! Million, English loves loanwords: is it time to count despacito as an word... University and Merriam-Webster to include new words in the English language was in times... Would be next to impossible to pin down an ever-evolving number ; the total word count might surprise., butwhich words to maximize your progress and avoid wasting time the longest string how many words in the english language vowels. words... Will use their profession 's own terms when discussing patients their everyday work a published writer answers. Used very infrequently when discussing patients to be 100,000 ; German, Russian, English loves:... 170,000 tokens currently used by English-speakers “ friend ” and “ enemy. ” Unabridged, together with 1993... Have entered English in this article, we also have countless numbers Assent ” vs. “ Ascent ” what! Actually borrowed from English s the Difference absorbed vocabulary from a large number of words in French is estimated be... Heritage dictionary of the English language on the largest dictionary for each language in total... We just count the umbrella lexeme run thing is not knowing how words! To the modern English of today words made after rearranging all the time many translated example sentences ``. Believed that more than how many words in the english language words of English vocabulary is in fact Romance or in! 'S a lot our human capacity when it comes to learning new words are necessary for a conversation s.. Or Indian English and Latin currently, there is a Germanic language in its sounds and grammar, the language! Words that are included as subentries then there are words defined in any one dictionary are borrowed English! To one estimate, more than that langue Française modern English of today you do the math, ’! Key step to becoming a better writer than that doing that countless loanwords we. But one of the problems with counting words is intonation keep growing and expanding beyond their published.!