Posted by: alpa72 | 20 December, 2010

How many words are needed to speak a language?

Hi mates!

first at all, I must confess: I’m an  engineer. Besides, I’m a telecomunication engineer and I started the career precisely when the most strange people and the most unsocial people you could ever know decided  to study this career. Well,  it could be even worse, and I could be a banker or an aircontroller.

But the fact is that I’m an engineer and I think PERMANENTLY as an engineer. What does it mean? Basically, that I think that every thing in life has a LOGICAL developing, even my 21 months old youngest son.

Going on with this thinking of logical developing, one day I thought: how many words must I know to speak English correctly? My thought was very simple: if Iknow almost 90% of words I will be able to understand at least 99% of conversations.

Laziness and my enormous facility at forgiving every new word of English that I try to learn made me give up the project. But lately, I have started to think about it again.  I thought of picking up a dictionary and starting to learn from A to Z, but this wasn’t logical, and now you know what I think about these things.. After that, I thought that it would be more logical to start by families of words (I noticed that my sons learn Spanish and English in this way: first the body, the weather, etc…)

But I’m not four years old and I think I need something quicker. And then internet came to help me. I found out this web that has the most common words in english (both depending on their use on radio or in books)

So I have started to check how many words I know. Actually I have checked first 500 words, and really all of them were very easy.

So I propose a game to all of you: cheking the list of the most common words in the radio and answer to the blog until we have managed that everyone knows  at less 90% of words.



  1. Good morning.
    I think the link you have highlighted doesn’t work well.
    Could you revise it?
    Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve tried it twice.

  2. I don’t know why the hiperlink doesn’t work fine.

    Excuse me. You can try with this one:

  3. I’ve checked the first thousand of both mediums (films and books), and I know all the words from films, but I miss some words from books. I suppose that I have to read more!

    It calls my attention how different is the kind of words that you can find in each medium: The words from the books are much more learned, whereas those from films and television are more vulgar.

  4. Hi, mates! I think the BBC’s web is very helpful, as it has the transcriptions of the news, and you can compare several articles, in this way, the vocabulary and expressions, that the journalists use, will be more known for you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: