The 3000 Most Common Words in English

It is estimated that there are 171,476 words in the English Language, which means that you have a lot of work to do in the next few years if you want your vocabulary size to reach that limit. 

Don’t worry you don’t have to learn them all because 47,156 of those are obsolete so you can cross them out and forget about them.

If you do the math, you still have 124,320 words to add to your vocabulary notebook.

Let me tell you that it will take a long time to learn them all and it is a mission-impossible task.

The good news is that you don’t have to learn them all.

So if  you don’t need to learn them all:

How Much English are you Supposed to Know? 

Well, there is no exact number, actually, English Native Speakers don’t know how many words they know,  as you might realize, it is hard to keep track of what you know or what you don’t know.

According to an article published in Test Your Vocab: The Blog Most adult native test-takers range from 20,000–35,000 words”. 

However you shouldn’t be paying too much attention to that, the question that you should be thinking about is:

where do I start?

What are the Most Frequent Words in English? 

In this day and age is not quite difficult to determine which words are used more frequently in the English Language.

Actually, this concern started a few decades ago when Michael West published a remarkable list of several thousand important vocabulary words known as the General Service List (GSL)  which was a list of words representing the most frequent words of English. 

In March of 2013, on the 60th anniversary of West’s publication of the GSL, Dr. Brent Culligan & Joseph Phillips of Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College and Dr. Charles Browne, Meiji Gakuin University announced the creation of a New General Service List (NGSL)

How Many Words are there in the New General Service List?

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, you can check the  New General Service List and see for yourself. 

If you are reading this, it means that you might know lots of them.

Remember that English is not about learning isolated words, you have to learn how to use them.

For example, if you already know the simple present, you’ll be surprised about how  many sentences you can make with only 100 words

How Can the New General Service List can Grow and Improve your Vocabulary

The New General Service List will boost your confidence because you can be sure that you know the vocabulary that is going to make a difference when you read, write, speak or listen in the target language.

he more confident that you are in the language, the better.

If you know the most common words in English that will prepare you to learn more vocabulary beyond that list.

For example, if you already mastered the words included in the New General Service List, You can spend some time checking the New Academic Word List.

Resources to Learn the New General Service List Words

These are some tests to help you see how many words you know

  1. NGSL  Test Download 
  2. NGSLT Score Sheet
  3. NGSLT Answer Sheet

New General Service List Flashcards ( Quizlet):

  1. Learn the NGSL in 50-word blocks here
  2. Learn the NGSL in 100-word blocks here

 The NGSL can be studied on Memrise in blocks of 100 words via this set.

More Vocabulary Lessons

These are some posts that you might want to check before you leave

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  2. Too and Enough: Difference and Exercises
  3. Halloween Vocabulary and Questions
  4. The 60 Most Common Phrasal Verbs in English
  5. Means of Transportation in English
  6. The 60 Most Useful Idioms in English
  7. Valentine’s Day Vocabulary and Phrases in English
  8. Soccer Vocabulary in English
  9. Classroom Objects in English
  10. Vocabulary: Synonyms and Antonyms List
Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English