What can we learn about vocabulary size based on testing 2,000,000 people?

Here are some interesting /findings/results/ based on testing the vocabulary size of two million people:<o:p></o:p>

•             Average native test-takers of age 8 already know 10,000 words<o:p></o:p>

•             Average native test-takers of age 4 already know 5,000 words<o:p></o:p>

•             The most common vocabulary size for foreign test-takers is 4,500 words<o:p></o:p>

•             Foreign test-takers learn 2.5 new words a day while living in an English- <o:p></o:p>

speaking country<o:p></o:p>

The vocabulary testing group also found that reading lots of fiction seemed to result in larger vocabularies. They concluded that this /was the case/was true/ because a wider range of vocabulary was used in fiction rather than non-fiction.

These are the results from

Keep in mind that these results are for people who volunteered to take the test. Of those who volunteered the information, the average test taker had an verbal SAT test score of 700 - about the 95th percentile of SAT test takers. The younger-aged test takers were probably also especially smart kids. Regardless, one of the most important things I learned from reading the blog was that high vocabulary goes hand in hand with lots of reading, particularly when that reading includes lots of fiction. No matter how much time you spend in conversation, you will not build your vocabulary to high levels. You must read a lot.

May 18, 2018 8:28 PM
Comments · 4
Seth and Chris, you're welcome. Glad you liked it. Chris, you don't need to be worried. You have a great vocabulary. Now if 13 represented your emotional age, your emotional IQ level... I would be a bit concerned!
May 19, 2018
Yeah but Seth, the fiction I read has the f word in every sentence :-)
May 18, 2018

Thank you for the link! Did it, my "English age" is 13. Don't know if I should be amused or worried.


May 18, 2018

Exactly.  Everyday conversation uses less than 5,000 words on average.   I am willing to bet that some folks use even less than that.

As a teacher, I can ALWAYS tell the difference between my avid readers and non-readers in a classroom setting.   We have the student with an extensive lexicon vs. the person who uses the F-word in every sentence...

Thanks for the website link, Stan!  What a great tool.

May 18, 2018