What are the 1000 most common words in English?

Sometimes students ask simple, direct questions that I can’t immediately answer. For instance, an ESL student wondered, “What are the 1000 most common words in English?”

Wiktionary, an offshoot of the wonderful Wikipedia, offers this answer . The list looks, sounds, and feels right, and offers no big surprises. English, an ever evolving and changing language, will probably have a slightly different list in a decade.

Do I recommend memorizing this current list? No. Language is to be used, discovered, and enjoyed. Memorizing long lists of vocabulary words in English, while sometimes effective for standardized tests, seldom helps create compelling conversations. Vocabulary lists, however, can provide a sense of satisfaction and order.

Sometimes lists like this can also help us review and trigger new connections. Yet exploring a personal interest in English will help you generate a more personal, authentic, and meaningful vocabulary in English. So what interests you today? What do you want to learn more about? Where can you find two quality articles on that topic? Why not create your own vocabulary list to match you and your interests? Shouldn’t your vocabulary journal reflect you?

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), British author

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