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Thread: How many words?

  1. #1
    aga14x's Avatar
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    Default How many words?

    I have read that the millionth word has entered the English language. Surely no one knows all these words. But from this comes my question. About how many words should I know to speak English fluently? (in twenty years perhaps ). And another question, which are these words? Can I find somewhere a list of such words? I mean the list of words most commonly used by ordinary people in their everyday life?
    Agnieszka

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    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: How many words?

    Click on the following link to find a list of the 1,000 commonest words in English (I bet you know a lot of them already):

    1000common english words - Google Search

    Good luck with that.

    (You don't need to learn them all at once.)

    Rover

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How many words?

    I think the million figure would be counting inflected words, ie. “walk, walked, walking, walks” count as different words. That brings it down to a few hundred thousand discrete words.

    “David Crystal described a simple research project ... He concludes that a better average for a college graduate might be 60,000 active words and 75,000 passive ones”.
    http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/howmany.htm

    50,000 passive words is a round number that you occasionally see for the average native speaker. No one really knows, of course. You need to be able to actively use far fewer words than you understand.

    It's worth looking here (and the links from there), for word frequencies in English:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_co...rds_in_English

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    Default Re: How many words?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I think the million figure would be counting inflected words, ie. “walk, walked, walking, walks” count as different words. That brings it down to a few hundred thousand discrete words.
    Elsewhere, Crystal writes that Webster's Third (1961) claims 450,000 entries, and the full OED(1992) 500,000. Allowing for a remarkable lack of overlap between the two, Crystal suggests that the combined lexicon of these two dictionaries would exceed three-quarters of a million. Inclusion of scientific nomenclature could raise the figure to two million.

    “David Crystal described a simple research project ... He concludes that a better average for a college graduate might be 60,000 active words and 75,000 passive ones”.
    Elsewhere, Crystal cites figures (lacking in research credibility) such as:
    school-leavers - 10-12,00
    college graduates, 20-25,000
    three individuals:
    an office secretary - 31,500 (active), 38,300 (passive)
    a businesswoman (a voracious reader) 63,000 (a), 73,350 (p)
    a lecturer - 56,250 (a), 76,250 (p)
    Crystal shows the difficulty in arriving at figures which have any real value. If all different forms of a word are counted (eg, goes, going and gone count as three words), then Shakespeare uses 29,066 different word. However, if we count only lexemes (ie, goes, going and gone are counted under the single heading of GO), then the size of Shakespeare's lexicon falls to less than 20,000.

    Crystal, David (2003) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of rhe English Language, Second Edition, Cambridge: CUP

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: How many words?

    There are more word lists here. However, it's not just a simple question of how many words someone knows, and remember that a single word can have many different meanings. Set has over a hundred, but the person who knows all of them only knows one word looking at it from the perspective of a word list,. For learners, it can often be more economical and useful to learn the different forms and meanings of a word than to try to learn a huge number of words.

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    Default Re: How many words?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    There are more word lists here.
    How do you use 'knitted' and 'quitted' in the present tense?
    Log In - UsingEnglish.com

    (These may be variant past and past participles, but there's no mention of that. They don't seem to belong in a list of invariable verbs.)

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    Default Re: How many words?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    How do you use 'knitted' and 'quitted' in the present tense?
    My grandma is always knitteding socks for her catteds and doggeds.

    Why don't you quitted askeding such basic questions?

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    Default Re: How many words?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    How do you use 'knitted' and 'quitted' in the present tense?
    Log In - UsingEnglish.com

    (These may be variant past and past participles, but there's no mention of that. They don't seem to belong in a list of invariable verbs.)
    Thanks for pointing that out. There's an error in the database. They won't delete at the moment, but they will disappear in a few days when the problem has been fixed. Thanks for that.

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    Incoan is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: How many words?

    Thanks! I've been wanting to know the answer as well.

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