Word Frequency‏‎ in English

Vocabulary & Spelling

© <a href='http://www.flickr.com/thomashawk/' target='_blank'>Thomas Hawk</a>Word Frequency is listing words‏‎ according to how popular they are in the language. The method of determining the list is by taking a corpus‏‎ of language and simply counting the words in it and how often each one is used.

This usually brings up the following as the most popular:

  1. the
  2. of
  3. and
  4. to
  5. a

However, no list can be definitive. This is because the popularity of words will depend upon the source of the corpus. For example, a corpus of film and television scripts gives these as the top 5 words which is different from the more general list above.

  1. you
  2. I
  3. to
  4. the
  5. a

This being the case, word lists can be generated for specific fields or, in the case of general usage, from collating many different word lists.

Another consideration is when is a word the same as another. Most lexicographers‏‎ would agree that table is the same as tables in a list and should not be counted as two different words. Likewise verb forms‏‎ can be counted as the same word: take, takes, taking. But how about spy used as a verb and spy used as a noun? Or gross used to mean disgusting and gross used to mean 12 dozen?

Often because the counting of words is done by software there are no distinctions made between words with the same form and completely different meanings.

Word Usage Statistics

Different statistics exist for how commonly everyday words are used in English. One source suggests that:

  • the first 25 words on the list below are used in 33% of everyday writing
  • the first 100 words on the list appear in 50% of adult and student writing
  • the first 1,000 words on the list are used in 89% of everyday writing

In the Classroom

Although it might seem useful to have the word list in the classroom, it is perhaps too boring to teach the words on the list and make sure the students understand them. Word lists are useful as adjunct tools to your teaching. For example, materials writers will use them to make sure that the materials they create use words within a certain ranking so that the majority of their students will understand them.

(Note that most published ELT books will have gone through a process whereby the vocabulary‏‎ used is checked against a word list to make sure it is appropriate so there is no need for the teacher to do this.)

Word List

These are typical word frequencies based on the British National Corpus.

RankSpoken & WrittenSpokenWritten
1thethethe
2ofIof
3andyouand
4aanda
5initin
6toato
7it‘sis
8istoto
9toofwas
10wasthatit
11In’tfor
12forinthat
13thatwewith
14youishe
15hedobe
16be*theyon
17witherI
18onwasby
19byyeah‘s
20athaveat
21have*whatyou
22areheare
23notthathad
24thistohis
25‘sbutnot
26butforthis
27hadermhave
28theybebut
29hisonfrom
30fromthiswhich
31sheknowshe
32thatwellthey
33whichsoor
34orohan
35wegotwere
36‘s‘veas
37annotwe
38~n’taretheir
39wereifbeen
40aswithhas
41donothat
42been‘rewill
43theirshewould
44hasather*
45wouldtherethere
46therethinkn’t
47whatyesall
48willjustcan
49allallif
50ifcanwho
51canthensaid
52her*getdo
53saiddidwhat
54whooras
55onewould‘s
56sommone
57upthemits
58as‘llinto
59themonehim
60sometheresome
61whenupup
62couldgocould
63himnowwhen
64intoyourthem
65itshadso
66thenweretime
67twoaboutout
68outtwomy
69timesaidtwo
70myoneabout
71about‘mthen
72didseeno
73yourmemore
74nowveryother
75meoutalso
76nomyonly
77otherwhenthese
78onlymeanme
79justrightfirst
80morewhichyour
81thesefrommay
82alsogoing*now
83peoplesaydid
84knowbeennew
85anypeopleany
86firstbecause*people
87seesomeher
88verycouldshould
89newwillthan
90mayhowsee
91wellonvery
92shouldanmade
93her*timelike
94likewhojust
95thanwantafter
96howlikebetween
97getcomemany
98wayreallyyears
99onethreeway
100ourbyhow
101madehereour
102gotputbeing
103after‘sthose
104thinkhassuch
105betweengooddown
106manyasone
107yearsdoesmake
108ercos*through
109‘veanyover
110thosedowneven
111gowhereback
112being~na*must
113because*himknow
114downhisyear
115‘reotherown
116yeahfivestill
117threeinbecause*
118goodsomethingtoo
119backtheirget
120makethesegood
121suchourthree
122onwaylast
123thereca~more
124throughactuallytake
125yearbackhowever
126overfourgovernment
127‘ll‘dwork
128mustshouldgo
129stillgon~man
130eventakewell
131takethingon
132toolookworld
133morethosesame
134herewhymost
135ownthingsover
136comenolife
137lastonlyagainst
138doeslikeday
139ohintomight
140sayusunder
141noquitehere
142going*hundreddoes
143‘mrightanother
144worklot*come
145wheremakeas
146ermfirstus
147usokay*think
148governmentmoreold
149samedoingwhile
150mandonenever
151mighttwentywhere
152daywenteach
153yesasagain
154howeversixfound*
155putgiveMr
156worldthought
157overagainpart
158anotheroffsay
159inmighthouse
160wantyearmuch
161asherthere
162lifelastused
163mostlikewhere
164againstmuchout of
165againneedin
166neverdaynumber
167underusedwithout
168oldsaysgoing*
169muchstilldifferent
170somethingaboutchildren
171Mrmhmsystem
172whyahput
173eachsortduring
174whileyearswithin
175housenevercame
176partlittlealthough
177numberthanfew
178out oftelllocal
179found*manysmall
180offsamebefore
181differenther*got
182wentanothersocial
183reallymoney‘ll
184pointplace
185thoughtbit*case
186camebeinggreat
187usedanythingoff
188childrenweekalways
189alwaystoo‘ve
190fourmore‘m
191wheretenmost
192withoutthrough‘re
193giveeightwhy
194fewnewsomething
195withinnicegroup
196aboutworkwent
197systemalwayswant
198localthankthought
199placenextcompany
200greatmust1
201duringprobablyend
202althoughsayingparty
203small‘dwhen
204beforepoundsper cent
205lookninewomen
206nextMrabout
207whensevennext
208casealsoboth
209endwo~men
210thingsbigfind
211socialoverinformation
212mostof courseimportant
213findgettinggive
214groupmadetook
215quiteafternational
216meannumberoften
217fivewhenevery
218partyoldstate
219everyfindgiven
220companycominghigh
221womenthirtymuch
222saysfifty2
223importantas wellBritish
224tookthousandseen
225muchrememberLondon
226menasfour
227informationanywaytold
2281goessecond
229per centtodaybusiness
230bothdifferenthead
231nationalout oftaken
232oftena bitschool
233seenfactlooked
234givenmayfamily
235schoolsurepossible
236factelseaway
237moneycamelarge
238toldsort offact
239awaynighthand
240highhousesays
241pointmorningwater
242nightevensuch as
243stateeverynight
244businessendlook
245secondusealready
246Britishhavingarea
247needkeepset
248takenperhapsasked
249doneoverthings
250rightowndevelopment
251‘d [= would]halfleft
252havingawaymoney
253thingmuchlong
254lookedschoolhaving
255Londonsorryyet
256areaC / chome
257perhapstalkingpower
258headlookingperhaps
259watercouncilalmost
260rightoohpoint
261familygonequite
262longroundhimself
2632workreally
264handayeJohn
265likewhetheruse
266alreadymumnothing
267possiblethoughlater
268nothingsomebodypolitical
269yetalright*called
270largeA / acountry
271leftmandays
272sidenothingyoung
273askedlet’sside
274setsobecome
275whetheraskboth
276daystryeyes
277mmletwhether
278homefortyfar
279calledjobroom
280Johncargeneral
281developmentsidesince
282weekseentogether
283such asnineteenservice
284use~n~*need
285countrychildrencourt
286poweralright*public
287ca~startmembers
288laterlongmarket
289almostfeeltowards
290‘d [= had]greatbefore
291youngtoldface
292councilpleaseuse
293himselfP / pfive
294of courseeverythingheld
295farareaothers
296bothpartcouncil
297useplaceable
298roomproblemfelt
299togetherfewtimes
300tellninetywar
301littleoffavailable
302politicalablelaw
303beforebetweenfull
304ableitspolice
305becomeB / binterest
306sixRoaddone
307generalcomesweek
308servicepound‘d
309eyes~ta*of course
310membersdaysproblem
311sinceonesearly
312timesbeforeform
313problemwantedproblems
314anythingtryingresearch
315marketquestion3
316towardspayright
317courtbettereducation
318publicyethelp
319otherscalledthough
320faceGodbest
321fulllocalbody
322doingmaybeknew
323warcertainlymother
324carnameBritain
325feltbadmaking
326policeeightyat least
327keepobviouslysaw
328heldgovernmentoffice
329problemssixtycar
330roadliferoad
331probablycalltell
332helpwhateverpolicy
333interestleaveturned
334availabletookbegan
335lawmomentservices
336besttimesthing
337formworkinglittle
338A / aimportantseveral
339lookingtwelvelike
340earlywaterseemed
341makingleftperiod
342todayevermain
343mothersupposeless
344sawstuffminister
345knewbackchild
346educationkindusing
347workat allhealth
348actuallydadever
349policyS / seconomic
350evereverybodycontrol
351soalreadykeep
352at leasttalkmillion
353officehome‘d
354amamsociety
355researchshallam
356feelwrongknown
357bigE / euntil
358bodytogetherfor example
359doorbuymajor
360letstarteddoor
361Britainmostmonths
3623Johnitself
363namereadamong
364personagoincluding
365servicescountyupon
366monthsagainstEngland
367reportbelievereport
368questiondoorfather
369usinghearperson
370healthminutesA / a
371turnedideathemselves
372lot*withinaround
373millionmovewords
374maingroupanything
375thoughanybodylevel
376wordsworldbook
377enoughwholelooking
378childbloodyafter
379lessmindenough
380bookT / teffect
381periodO / oname
382untilroundareas
383severalpersonbecame
384sureonlylikely
385fathercasefeel
386for exampleeachcommunity
387levelM / mwoman
388controlenoughinternational
389knownhelpwork
390societyhomecentre
391majorahatherefore
392seemedundercity
393aroundtomorrowso
394beganpercentquestion
395itselfroomposition
396themselveswomengave
397ministerpaperprovide
398economicheardsix
399wantedtakenreal
400uponso thatlet
401areaslovelyclear
402afterwan~probably
403thereforebeforestaff
404womanfaraction
405Englandalltoday
406cityup toblack
407communitypartyfurther*
408onlywithoutact
409includinglookspecial
410centrelooksyes
411gavestopprocess
412jobbusinessmanagement
413amongusedno
414positionsuchevidence
415effectgivenonly
416likelymakingparticularly
417realmembersthus
418clearsecondage
419stafftakingcertain
420blackmenopen
421kindpolicyline
422readai~*wanted
423providehandparticular
424particularcouple4
425becamebeforedifficult
426linehellodeath
427momentproblemseither
428internationalhaacross
429actionbookbig
430specialme*read
431difficultminutethird
432certainaskedview
433particularlybestkind
434eitherbringsense
435opensmallmind
436managementreportaround
437takingwordtaking
438acrossehwhose
439ideamonthscentury
440further*sitseems
441wholefoundwhite
442agerathermoment
443processlookedchurch
444actparticularrather
445aroundfifteenidea
446evidencehopeindustry
447viewwritewhole
448betterfullsure
449offinformationsupport
450mindsawchange
451sensewordsbehind
452ratherservicerange
453seemscountryjob
454believeseventybrought
455morninggetsca~
456thirdunderstandEuropean
457elsedifficultcare
458halfexactlystudy
459whitemostfree
460deathsometimestable
461sometimesweeksorder
462thusturnhistory
463broughteither10
464gettingbettercentral
465churchwantsbelieve
466tentopgroups
467shallaroundsometimes
468tryhappenedMrs
469behindplaybetter
470heardboughtdoing
471GodChristmasair
472tablehourlanguage
473changeI / istreet
4744in~*result
475supporthoursrate
476backsystemlittle
477sortbothhands
478Mrso’clocktrade
479whoseshopoff
480industryfinebased
481agocommitteeheard
482freeseemshuman
483carepoliceexperience
484so thathighmean
485ordermothertraining
486centuryabsolutelyfood
487rangeD / dsimilar
488Europeanyourselfdata
489goneG / gteam
490yesterdaysomeoneyesterday
491traininglinesection
492workingyoungusually
493askreasonprogramme
494streetlaterchanges
495homethinkingcommon
496wordrunrole
497groupsmeetingcases
498historytonight5
499centralyesterdayEurope
500allbedshall
501studyminenature
502usuallyTRUEvoice
503rememberhappynecessary
504tradesituationsir
505hundredoftenso that
506programmesetUK
507foodacrosssubject
508committeesomewhereback
509airteacourse
510hourspickonce
511experiencefamilyindeed
512ratewarword
513handsdownago
514indeedmeansauthority
515sireatcompanies
516languageviewsince
517landshowland
518resultcertaincommittee
519courseknewGod
520someoneofficeas well as
521everythingpastpatients
522certainlyliveclass
523basedlandpersonal
524teamwaithours
525sectionindeedall
52610cutsystems
527leavenationalherself
528tryingat leastespecially
529comingdu~*someone
530similarlevelvalue
531onceheaddepartment
532minutesmindformer
533authoritypaidsimply
534humanof*single
535changesthankshome
536littlemakesprivate
537casesgeneralmember
538commonfunnyworking
539rolewherepractice
540data/datumalthoughlong
541TRUEchangemorning
542Europeboytown
543necessarysenseshort
544naturemyselfhalf
545classmummyTRUE
546reasontownbecause of
547longcompanyshow
548sayingN / nreason
549townmillionright
550showdearcountries
551subjectusingtry
552voicehappenoh
553companiesgirlelse
554sincewhilewife
555because oftrainingfigure
556simplythroughrather than
557especiallyopenbank
558B / blostuntil
559departmentfinishedforeign
560singleplantype
561shorthealthneed
562personalelevendecision
563as well asR / rprice
5645longUS
565payparticularlyterms
566valueYorkminutes
567memberhardfinancial
568startedputtingneeded
569runquestionsuniversity
570patientsduringpresident
571paperthereforerun
572private~no*certainly
573sevenworkedleave
574UKforwardrecent
575eightupclub
576systemschairmanseem
577herselfFridaysouth
578practiceMrsnorth
579wifethatfriend
580pricetableaccording to
581typeafternoonmatter
582seembyelost
583figurewatchtrying
584formergavesoon
585rather thanmonthquality
586lostblackask
587rightpossiblestrong
588needSaturdaygone
589matterseemled
590decisionfireunion
591bankstayparents
592countriesinterestingAmerican
593untilmatterproduction
594makesusuallyas if
595unionphonedate
596termsnobodybuilding
597financialagreemakes
598neededSundayeverything
599southcityhigher
600universityon toart
601clubcoursepaper
602presidentbroughtstage
603friendsir1990
604parentsfatherlate
605qualityin terms oflow
606cos*because ofconditions
607buildingareasinclude
608northdevelopmentstarted
609stagegetting
610meetingBritishMr.
611wo~clearaward
612foreignhappensshown
613soontapechapter
614strongwomanfollowed
615situationamountground
616comesstaffdescribed
617lateservicestax
618bedtroublep.
619recentDavidEnglish
620datestreetvarious
621lowpageMay
622USsendsecretary
623concernedaroundconcerned
624girluntilking
625hardeasydespite
626Americandifferenceroyal
627Davidlordpay
628according torestlot*
629as ifmarketmeeting
630twentyunionresults
631higherbasicallyexpected
632taxconcernedDavid
633used (to)formmore than
634productionsupposedApril
635variousmainclearly
636understandcentreB / b
637ledU / uschools
638bringinterestmusic
639schoolsfairknowledge
640groundrealpresent
641conditionsLondonsituation
642secretarythirdhard
643weekslettergirl
644clearlylovedecided
645badwhiterequired
646arteighteenstudents
647startprogrammehospital
648up tooncepoor
649includeMondayworkers
650poorchildMarch
651hospitalpositionbed
652friendspowerapproach
653decidedreadyfriends
654~na*boxseries
655shownokay*June
656musicdogtried
657monthplusten
658Englishspeakways
659triedshortgame
660gamenearlyremember
6611990takesnatural
662Maystageanyone
663anyoneafterfield
664wronglotscost
665waysothersissue
666chaptercommunitylove
667followedredadded
668costenoughlight
669playspecialgreater
670presentlisten&
671lovethemselvesfor
672issuewonderbases
673at allX / xmonth
674goesagemoved
675describedoughtfurther
676more than*towardsunderstand
677awardH / hstudies
678Mr.till6
679kingbuilding1989
680royalunlessnews
681resultswalksecurity
682workersknowsweeks
683Apriltradehair
684expectedbehindproject
685amountpricefeet
686studentsF / fallowed
687despitechangedbring
688knowledgepieceamount
689Junelessabove
690movedanswermanager
691newskidsattention
692lightmotiondied
693Marchexpectheart
694approachalmostfuture
695lordeveryoneactually
696p.schoolssimple
697cutauthority20
698basisalongkept
699hairlabour*met
700requiredhellcoming
701furtherdistrictforce
702paidanyonelord
703seriesextralabour*
704bettertypefollowing
705beforebottomcarried
706fieldsellmeet
707allowedsittingmovement
708easyforgetindividual
709keptyaanalysis
710questionsfoodcomputer
711naturalyepFrench
712livePaulconsidered
713futurecarrysuccess
714restlargenear
715projecteducationstood
716greatersocialup to
717feetcosteasy
718meetonceagreement
719simpleloveplay
720diedfuckingstructure
721forfairly1991
722happenednewsagreed
723addedjobsrest
724C / cstandtheory
725managerworthcut
726computerpardonaccount
727securitylistcurrent
728neartrafficper
729metfreepopulation
730eveninggivingpaid
731meanskeptevening
732roundhalfstory
733carriedrunningquestions
734hearwishcapital
735bit*issuelegal
736heartcupwhom
737forwardbitsmaterial
738sentsinceperformance
739abovenormallymodern
740attentionquartergrowth
741labour*actualScotland
742storygamemodel
743structureparentsreceived
744movehairsent
745agreedorderprovided
746nineperiodcomes
747&farin order
748lettermentionedsort
749individualbothsea
750forceaskingfinally
751studieschangerights
752movementpointsproduced
753accountinterestedlive
754perholdboard
755callsentrelationship
7566budgetson
757boardcoldparties
758successbecomefinal
7591989chanceenvironment
760Frenchbodybetter
761followingtellingletter
762consideredstatebooks
763currentfourteenreached
764everyoneclassauthorities
765fireprettybad
766agreementeveningwrong
767pleaseaddeast
768boyplayingnor
769capitalchurchforward
770stoodshuteveryone
771analysisclearly12
772whatevertaxproperty
773populationfor examplesaying
77420numbersmeans
775modernwifeat all
776theorysixteenbuilt
777bookstriedwest
778labour*feltbehaviour
779stopwaysincluded
780in ordermovedbefore
781legalfigureschance
782Scotlanddoctorlabour*
783materialdaddyFrance
784sonhangrecord
785receiveditselftreatment
786modelallowedhappened
787chancesizeclose
788environmentsupportfire
789finallycouncillorprime
790performanceneedsenergy
791seafriendsprevious
792rightsmajordirector
793growthavailableserious
794authoritiesearlyexample
795providedspendrecently
796nicegodsignificant
797whomfacespace
798producedsouthright
799relationshipexperiencetotal
800talkmeantboy
801turnquidlevels
802builtyosize
803finalfrienddesign
804easttermalong
8051991V / vnormal
806talkingpublicJuly
807finelatePeter
808workedmanagementstart
809westvariousquickly
810partiesneedseven
811sizemattertechnology
812recordrather than30
813redboardcosts
814closepoorsuddenly
815propertyJesusfollowing
816myselfturneddefence
817gon~meetgiving
818exampleuseactivities
819spacefuturedetails
820givingqualitychoice
821normalgoloss
822norladysat
823reachedsimplyred
824buygivesissues
825seriousfurtherterm
826quicklyholidayincome
827Peterthirteenindustrial
828alongyourspressure
829planbetaway from
830behaviourdecisionforces
831Franceover thereactivity
832recentlygirlsworked
833termhospitalreported
834previoushousesscheme
835couplefigurehear
836includedbagcontinue
837poundsa lotUnited
838anywaymovingassociation
839cupSecretarythroughout
840treatmenthotopened
841energycolourcup
842totalcaremove
843thankdinnerconsider
844directorplanningrelations
84512fronthotel
846primefloorwon
847levelsstoryeight
848significantpayingDr
849issuesstraightparts
850satontorates
851incomecardhall
852topWednesdayarmy
853choiceK / kgenerally
854away frombasisallow
855costsbus15
856designworrymyself
857pressurehandsoutside
858schemeacceptsun
859Julywrittenteachers
860changesingleturn
861a bitcourtspent
862listsupportSt
863suddenlyL / lstop
864continuebabywide
865technologyimaginefine
866hallteamdead
867takesknowncontract
868onesbloodyarms
869detailsOxfordplan
870happyfuckingSoviet
871considerdefinitelyspecific
872wonweekendlower
873defenceawful7
874followingwindowmilitary
875partsdepartmentdeveloped
876lossplaceslist
877industrialquickwall
878activitieslikelysummer
879throughoutballappropriate
880spentpictureappear
881outsidelowtop
882teachersregionseason
883generallycoffeefloor
884openedreckonhon.
885floorsettlementde*
886roundlightcontinued
887activityhoweverplayed
888hopeclubproduct
889pointssocietyGeorge
890associationespeciallyappeared
891nearlydecidedtakes
892Unitedratecall
893allowsectionset
894ratesThursdayeffects
895sunquicklywo~
896armychairunit
897sorrylawhusband
898wallnormalideas
899hotelgreenannounced
900forcesnorthbasic
901contractminuspoints
902deadsortsinvestment
90330gardensuccessful
904Paulactionoriginal
905staypossiblyNew
906reportedprovideproduce
907as wellringshowed
908hournearstyle
909differenceotherwise1988
910meantstationpopular
911summerMichaelmeant
912countymachinetest
913specificinstead ofvillage
914numberseffectGermany
915wideofficersOctober
916appropriatePeterwhatever
917husbandbooks1992
918tophimselfchange
919playedblueevents
920relationsmiddlesuggested
921Drhappeningproducts
922figuresairreturned
923chairmanwellPaul
924setawarenumbers
925lowercornernearly
926productbankbeyond
927colourlearnscience
928ideasgroupsprofessional
929Georgefeetpassed
930Stmembereach other
931lookagreedtalk
932armsterriblecolour
933obviouslywhileinterests
934unlesscomputerfigures
935produceand so onoffered
936changedfootevent
937seasoncostrules
938developedprojectreasons
939unitTuesdayeconomy
94015controlrisk
941appearsavedirect
942investmentbuiltemployment
943Sovietstupidtop
944testworkscouple
945basicuntildark
946writesoonSeptember
947villagemilesensure
948reasonsearlierdifference
949militaryevidenceresources
950originalopencircumstances
951successfulwholehelp
952gardenlivedhappy
953effectssimplestay
954each otheruponaware
955awarefinishfollows
956yourselfgroundgarden
957exactlyincomecommission
958helphusbanddesigned
959supposeinvolvedsound
960showeddealadvice
961styleaway fromimmediately
9627datea little
963employmentcompletelyneeds
964passedissuesAmerica
965appearedstructureJanuary
966de*walloil
967pagediedunless
968holdbasedgoods
969suggestedanywheresales
970Germanyfootballinvolved
971continuedspaceestablished
972Octoberalongfell
973offeredhelpchanged
974productslanguagebuy
975popularofficer8
976sciencehittraditional
977Newfinancialwindow
978windowcarspublished
979expecttelevisionScottish
980hon.halllines
981beyondtotallyblood
982resourcesradiowestern
983rulessitechairman
984professionalweargoes
985announcedboyseffective
986economysoundsGerman
987pictureprocessfish
988okayschemepicture
989needshousingpark
990doctorRichardJames
991maybeindustryresponse
992eventssuggestdegree
993a littleBritainplease
994directstrongpress
995givesneededoperation
996adviceoddprices
997runningbirthdayhold
998circumstancespresidentround
999salesmusicaccess
1000risktermstitle

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