Being an English learner, it is a natural urge to find out how many words are there in the English language. The exact answer to this question is quite difficult to find out but you can undergo a rough estimation to analyze this curiosity. 

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The English language has more than a million words, according to many experts. In reality, according to 2010 research from Harvard University and Google, there are 1,022,000 English words, and that number is expected to rise by about 8,500 each year.

It is very important to keep in mind that this contains various kinds of identical words when you see a large number like this. It also contains a large number of words that could be considered archaic. In other words, expressions that are no longer used in English today.

About 600,000 words in the English language are defined in the Oxford English dictionary. Once more, this contains a number of archaic words that are no longer commonly used. This dictionary grows every year to keep up with new terms developed to explain new information around us or to add new meaning to significant words already existing in English.

Oxford English dictionary

The 171,476 words currently used to describe individuals in particular professions represent a very different number from the one found in the Oxford English dictionary. These words aren’t exactly the same in the entire dictionary. These are related to people’s occupations, qualifications, and interests.

Determining what constitutes English is also challenging. Full definitions are provided for 47,156 out-of-date words and 171,476 currently used words in the 1989 edition of the Oxford English Thesaurus. This could be subdivided into 9,500 additional words. Most of these words (over 50%) are nouns, with about a quarter being adjectives and verbs as well.

The remaining words include exclamations, mixtures, prepositions, suffixes, and other words. In any case, there are now more than a quarter million new words in English and more than half a million new words globally. The total might resemble three-quarters of a million if there were a more precise way to count. There are several English dictionary apps that you can use to learn these words.

Concise English dictionary

Vocabulary is continuously increasing

New words keep on emerging in the language all the time. Nobody could have predicted COVID-19 would become a defining phase of 2020 in 2019. However, this phrase is a permanent one. When you hear the word “Tweets” and all the words associated with this new terminology, that’s another novel idea. Old words fade away; we no longer speak in Shakespearean terms, for instance. The best way to improve English vocabulary is to make a comparison of the old and new words. Vocabulary building is an ongoing process for every language learner.

The origin of the English language  

English is a Germanic language with a large vocabulary of German and Dutch words. They sound similar and have some basic structural and lexical similarities. There are some Germanic words that are frequently used in English, but more than half of the language’s vocabulary comes from Latin and French.

The Latin language

English has welcomed and been influenced by words from many different languages over the years, and it still contains words from many different languages today. About 80% of all words in the English language are those. We have many words in English that come from different languages.

Why can’t it be as easy as counting the words in a thesaurus, some people wonder? Unfortunately, there isn’t enough room in the thesaurus. There are important terms in the thesaurus that many people mistake for partial words. Prefixes, suffixes in English, and other word types that are parts of words make up these partial words. These affixes are often not considered or categorized as words, but some of them can stand alone as words.

Additionally, thesaurus variations depend on the intended audience. For instance, a scientific thesaurus with those specific terms that only deal with forensics would undoubtedly be different from a student’s thesaurus for those who need to understand the fundamentals of a language.

That means that each thesaurus will contain a unique set of words, with some appearing in numerous dictionaries while others, particularly those that are overly technical, do not.

The advancement of digital technology has made it possible for us to collect phrases like never before. A corpus is yet another alternative approach to understanding the English language. In order to grammatically describe a complete set of specific etymological within a language, a corpus typically explains a significant or detailed collection of imaginative phrases. In other words, we have the option to read a variety of books from various genres online.

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The vocabulary of an individual

It is safe to say that the person’s typical vocabulary is less extensive than the entire vocabulary of English words. There is simply no other way to recognize and utilize common English words.

The average 20-year-old English speaker uses about 42,000 words, according to some studies. Lexicographer Susie Dent estimated that while an English speaker may recognize about 40,000 words, they actively use 20,000 of them in a 2011 conference with the BBC.

 Adults who speak English use between 20,000 and 30,000 words on average. The good news is that they probably use context cues to recognize additional words while reading. If you are an English learner and looking out for ways to improve your English vocabulary, get yourself enrolled in italki to learn English online.

With italki, you can learn at your own pace and improve your English vocabulary and pronunciation. The English teacher online will enable you to understand and learn English concepts and phrases in the comfort of your home. In fact, they will also provide you with some practical exposure to speaking English publicly.

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Frequently asked questions about words in English

Q. What are the 7 question words in English?

A. An interrogative word or question word is a function word used to ask a question, such as what, which, when, where, who, whom, whose, why, whether, and how. They are sometimes called wh-words because in English most of them start with wh- (compare Five Ws).

Q. What are the challenges in learning English vocabulary?

A. Pronunciation, Spelling, Slang and Colloquialisms, and fluency are some of the most common challenges.

Q. What is the best way to improve vocabulary in English?

A. Develop a reading habit, use the dictionary and thesaurus, play word games, use flashcards, and use mnemonics.


So, how many words are there in the English language altogether? The Corpus of Contemporary American English, which includes words from publications, TV shows, blogs, and many other sources, is one well-known corpus. However, they are all different spellings of the same word.

The Worldwide Language Display, which monitors language usage patterns, estimates that there are currently one million unique words in the English language. Do not panic with such a huge number. Go easy and start building your vocabulary gradually.

Use different resources such as developing a reading habit, using the dictionary and thesaurus, playing word games, using flashcards, and using mnemonics to boost your vocabulary set.

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