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The 100 Most Common Words In The English Language

see how many you can guess in 5 minutes
posted by clearly (124 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
26
posted by Rubbstone at 1:49 AM on August 6, 2008


31. I've never thought of myself as a commoner, in any case.
posted by maxwelton at 1:50 AM on August 6, 2008


47 in four minutes (was interrupted for a minute by work stuff).
posted by syzygy at 1:57 AM on August 6, 2008


28 - and I'm common as muck.

Three distinct phases:

1) First 30 seconds: I'm good at this, I might get them all.
2) Next four minutes: This is a lot harder than it seemed at first.
3) Final 30 seconds: Swear words
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 1:57 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


74
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:03 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


41, with a story arc eerily similar to The Ultimate Olympian's.
posted by carsonb at 2:03 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


39. I feel so ashamed.
posted by cmonkey at 2:04 AM on August 6, 2008


36, might have been a good idea to think before starting the clock. I was quite surprised by some of the verbs that made it in against ones I tried that weren't in, it made me give up on them in the last 2 minutes.
posted by biffa at 2:05 AM on August 6, 2008


36, I feel like an idiot.
posted by AndrewStephens at 2:05 AM on August 6, 2008


44, but are we talking most common in speech or writing; and what is the source?

Because "paris", "teen", "viagra", "penis" and "fail" weren't there, and they make up about 90% of the internet.
posted by SciencePunk at 2:05 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


41, not a native English speaker.

Missed obvious ones like by, and, of, in
posted by qvantamon at 2:08 AM on August 6, 2008


41. All of which came to me slowly.
posted by mexican at 2:08 AM on August 6, 2008


49 which puts me...in the middle, I guess.
posted by Jimbob at 2:09 AM on August 6, 2008


Also got 49. "Sorry, you missed some." Yeah, well go to hell, obnoxious browser game.
posted by JHarris at 2:11 AM on August 6, 2008


40
NUDAR FAIL
posted by nudar at 2:12 AM on August 6, 2008


sound?
posted by pracowity at 2:16 AM on August 6, 2008


46, but I got nothing for like the last minute and a half. I felt pretty dumb.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:18 AM on August 6, 2008


...and the survey says...
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:18 AM on August 6, 2008


50. Woo! Second highest in the thread so far!
posted by Weebot at 2:26 AM on August 6, 2008


Gonna use the word "cornucopia" a lot today. Enough to make this game wrong.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:34 AM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Cornucopia.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:34 AM on August 6, 2008


29 *hangs head and totally relates to The Ultimate Olympian but thought it was fun anyway. Fascinated by some of the words being that common, like write, word, sound or water.
posted by nickyskye at 2:36 AM on August 6, 2008


33 and cornucopia cornflakes
posted by Mojojojo at 2:45 AM on August 6, 2008


A nice round 50. It gets very, very frustrating towards the end of the countdown. And there were some that I never would've thought of as being in the top 100 common words given an hour to do the quiz: sound, write, number....
posted by jack_mo at 2:46 AM on August 6, 2008


PS: that Codebox site has some other fun games too, including the game of life.
posted by nickyskye at 2:48 AM on August 6, 2008


That was cool. I got 47, which seemed bad, but others did worse!

It's funny because today I was explaining to a native English speaker the "rules" by which one knows whether to make a comparative adjective with "-er" (like "wiser") or with more (like more insane) and this person had never known their were rules about that; they thought it was just what "sounded right" (which it would be for a native speaker.)

And if you think of this quiz, nearly every word is a Germanic word - maybe only one or two Latinate ones. I took the quiz knowing that the most commonly used words in English were Germanic ones. It helped to be able to eliminate anything derived from Latin.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:49 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


45, which I guess for this is a decent score.
posted by tracicle at 2:50 AM on August 6, 2008


46, which is surprising, because I speak no english.
posted by zippy at 2:51 AM on August 6, 2008


38. Not enough coffee yet. yes, that must be it.
posted by monocultured at 2:59 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: was interrupted for a minute by work stuff
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:00 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hmm... there's who, what, when, but now why or where. That's telling. I guess.

Wonder if "meh" would show up if this were the 100 most used words on MetaFilter?

(BTW, I don't mean this is a "meh" post. I hate the use of "meh"...)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:09 AM on August 6, 2008


oops, typo: that's no why or where.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:11 AM on August 6, 2008


Water? Really? I guess that must be number 50 or there abouts.
posted by Gratishades at 3:14 AM on August 6, 2008


54. Also surprised by the lack of "why" and "where."
posted by Shepherd at 3:15 AM on August 6, 2008


56, and as the saying goes: "the of to and a in is."
posted by barnacles at 3:23 AM on August 6, 2008


Actually, I don't believe "water" is used more than "where".

Also, these 100 are from English spoken where? The US? England? India? Nigeria? Worldwide?

If it's the US, I reckon "Coke" is uttered more often than "water"...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:24 AM on August 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Does anyone know Wordcount?

It is a lot of fun. I quote:

WordCount™ is an artistic experiment in the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonness. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance. The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is.

WordCount data currently comes from the British National Corpus®, a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent an accurate cross-section of current English usage. WordCount includes all words that occur at least twice in the BNC®. In the future, WordCount will be modified to track word usage within any desired text, website, and eventually the entire Internet.


Here are some rankings of words included in the quiz above, according to Wordcount:

171: number
198: find
244: water
260: side
484: call
930: write
1125: hot

As you can see, there is a big discrepancy in the perceived commonness of some of these words.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:29 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


44, and I cheated by looking at the mefi frontpage for inspiration that netted me about 7.
posted by jmhodges at 3:34 AM on August 6, 2008


I was explaining to a native English speaker the "rules" by which one knows whether to make a comparative adjective with "-er" (like "wiser") or with more (like more insane)

Oh, now you've got me interested...what are these rules, exactly?
posted by Jimbob at 3:40 AM on August 6, 2008


34.. I forgot 'and'..
posted by derekpaco at 3:40 AM on August 6, 2008


MetaFilter: is it in you?
posted by not_on_display at 3:42 AM on August 6, 2008


62 but I cheated by looking at other sites for inspiration too, and probably netted an additional 4-5 out of that.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:49 AM on August 6, 2008


42. Why was that so hard?
posted by no1hatchling at 3:52 AM on August 6, 2008


51! Missed some stupid ones though. For some reason my mind completely blanked out on conjunctions and coordinators, so I spent way too long trying various prepositions. Still, not so bad.
posted by xchmp at 4:01 AM on August 6, 2008


34. I hit a wall after 3 minutes and just watched the clock.
posted by emelenjr at 4:17 AM on August 6, 2008


42. (Heh.)
posted by Nattie at 4:20 AM on August 6, 2008


34.
posted by crossoverman at 4:20 AM on August 6, 2008


46. As someone who's been teaching ESL for nearly 9 years, I hang my head in shame. If it helps at all, I forgot nearly all the prepositions, much like many of my students.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:31 AM on August 6, 2008


40. Towards the end I started typing in phrases from movies I watched recently into the box one word at a time ... it helps to be a fast typist and have a good memory, I'dve been stuck at 20ish otherwise.
posted by Xany at 4:39 AM on August 6, 2008


That wordcount site says "sound" is 679. That's more like what I would have guessed.

If you are willing to go as high as 850 words, the Basic English folk say you have enough words for nearly everything (though you also need to add a few specialized words particular to your subject). Is there an automatic translator on the net somewhere for converting standard English to Basic English?
posted by pracowity at 4:41 AM on August 6, 2008


Feh. Did "an" and then it wouldn't let me do "and", because "an" is on the way to "and" when you key it. Said goodbye at that point.
posted by Mike D at 4:43 AM on August 6, 2008


Mike D, you key them in "a", "an" then "and". In other words, once it registered "an" you could type in "and".

I got 41. I can't believe I missed "hot" since I use it about eleventybillion times a day these days. Like right now, if someone asked me how I was? I would say "hot." And not in a Paris Hilton way.

I'm surprised there's no "should"; I've said it several times today, already - but have yet to say "sound", "water" or "number". Should I be surprised that there's "his" but not "hers"?
posted by taz at 4:49 AM on August 6, 2008


47. Not bad, but I was annoyed by the ones I missed.
posted by shiu mai baby at 4:51 AM on August 6, 2008


42. The most common word that I missed was "and" which is really stupid, because it's the first word I started typing. But it took 'a' and 'an' and I must have forgotten to type it a third time.
posted by DU at 4:57 AM on August 6, 2008


37. I completely forgot to include prepositions and conjunctions.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:12 AM on August 6, 2008


41, which seems a relatively common result...
posted by benzo8 at 5:30 AM on August 6, 2008


45. Pretty neat. Some surprises.

I wonder if they're collecting people's guesses -- I think that would be pretty interestnig.

Next month they can put up "See how many of the 100 words users most often guessed were among the 100 most common words in the English language"
posted by Perplexity at 5:37 AM on August 6, 2008


Lot of swearing in that list I'd guess.
From me at least.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 5:38 AM on August 6, 2008


41 go team
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:40 AM on August 6, 2008


No, but not yes? I'm surprised at that.
posted by Phalene at 5:42 AM on August 6, 2008


48 and I could have gotten some more if I had thought of past tense for verbs earlier.
posted by starbuckzero at 5:54 AM on August 6, 2008


I don't believe I missed "and". 38.
posted by boo_radley at 5:57 AM on August 6, 2008


Yeah Taz, I was wondering myself if Paris Hilton had thrown off the average for use of the word "hot."

I got 45. I too wonder what the criteria for "most common words" are. Written? Spoken? In one country or several? Over a period of time, or just this year (or other arbitrary unit of time)?

It can't reflect the everyday speech of contemporary Americans, because "damn," "like," "dude," "man," "yeah," "oh," and "well" would certainly be more common than "sound" or "water."
posted by Rykey at 5:58 AM on August 6, 2008


and why is the word "word" so common?
posted by taz at 6:09 AM on August 6, 2008


34. Totally hit the wall of incomprehending blankness. Partly this was because I assumed I'd already done easy ones like "and" when, in fact, I hadn't.
posted by flashboy at 6:10 AM on August 6, 2008


47, and I don't believe their criteria—some of the ones I (and others here) tried have got to be more common than some of the ones on their list. Still, lots of fun!
posted by languagehat at 6:16 AM on August 6, 2008


Sex and Love are also missing from that list...
posted by dbiedny at 6:20 AM on August 6, 2008


43. Interesting to compare this with C.K. Ogden's list of 100 key words in Basic English.
posted by verstegan at 6:33 AM on August 6, 2008


39. I was on the right track-- prepositions, articles, pronouns, query words, common verbs-- and then my mind went blank and I missed variations like verb tenses, duh. Sesame street really helped (over under around and through! who what where why how! is am are!) I also typed in the instruction sentence which netted a bunch.

Internet quizzes have got to be a government plot to reduce the productivity of artists and nerds.
posted by nax at 6:36 AM on August 6, 2008


43. Totally random.
posted by mhz at 6:43 AM on August 6, 2008


48. Did better on the largest countries quiz, 40/50. Would have got 46 on that one, but wasted way too much time thinking about #2 (which is so wrong) and mis-spelling Colombia.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:45 AM on August 6, 2008


36/100 4:00
posted by parmanparman at 6:48 AM on August 6, 2008


51. Having long blocks of text memorized was really helpful for this. Thanks, Mr. Shakespeare!
posted by EarBucket at 6:57 AM on August 6, 2008


156! Beat that!

Oh, wait a minute...
posted by rottytooth at 7:01 AM on August 6, 2008


Slow site is slow.
posted by spamguy at 7:17 AM on August 6, 2008


35.
posted by bz at 7:24 AM on August 6, 2008


A dismal 39. "no" was on the list, but "yes" was not. Sad.
posted by chowflap at 7:24 AM on August 6, 2008


34 - ugh.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 7:28 AM on August 6, 2008


finally after two hours practice, I got all 100. It's surprisingly hard to memorise them all.
posted by leibniz at 7:40 AM on August 6, 2008


41. Cornucopia
posted by Debaser626 at 7:42 AM on August 6, 2008


57 - I'm surprised I did better than most. I tried recalling common sentences. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party, and others and chose the words that sounded common in those phrases.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:42 AM on August 6, 2008


46. I'm surprised I did that well.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:46 AM on August 6, 2008


38 on the first stab. I missed some obvious ones like "is" (?); there's also some words in there ("water") that I wouldn't have expected this high up. Cool game (for us language nerds, that is)!
posted by jacobian at 7:46 AM on August 6, 2008


Yeah, I came in here all ready to feel all stupid with my 52.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:47 AM on August 6, 2008


Yeah, I'd like to see the corpus they're using to put together these counts. Some of the rankings seem really off. There is no way that 'water' or 'write' are more common than 'me' or 'not', which don't even make the top 100 according to this chart.

'Hot' definitely doesn't belong that high. Maybe they're using the Paris Hilton corpus.
posted by Alison at 7:54 AM on August 6, 2008


43

I missed "and".
posted by swift at 8:12 AM on August 6, 2008


47 here.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:16 AM on August 6, 2008


Ah. I just realized that 'hot' is a typo in the quiz. It should be 'not'.
posted by Alison at 8:16 AM on August 6, 2008


53. How is it possible that I got higher than languagehat? (Thanks for the link, by the way - I saw this on your site first!)
posted by operalass at 8:37 AM on August 6, 2008


46. I missed "it" and "is". Surprised how hard it is.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:38 AM on August 6, 2008


I got 43. Am slapping my forehead at the easy words I missed.
posted by peacheater at 8:40 AM on August 6, 2008


24 - my brain is just too highly trained to the abstract ... :-)
posted by Susurration at 8:42 AM on August 6, 2008


Proves to me that language (any language) is a fairly pointless tool unless it has a context. I mean, what value these hundred words just hanging out together on a page full of boxes. They don't "mean" anything. And I'm not just saying that because I only scored 28.
posted by philip-random at 8:46 AM on August 6, 2008


41. Seems to be close to the mean.
posted by Phineas Rhyne at 9:02 AM on August 6, 2008


Proves to me that language (any language) is a fairly pointless tool unless it has a context. I mean, what value these hundred words just hanging out together on a page full of boxes. They don't "mean" anything. And I'm not just saying that because I only scored 28.

Proves to me that I should never post comment (or attempt a skill testing quiz) before drinking coffee. Language, of course, is the context. Words are the lost things looking for it. Unfortunately, this improved clarity of thought does not improve my 28 score.
posted by philip-random at 9:22 AM on August 6, 2008


The two most common words here are 'Access' and 'Denied'. Blast.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:24 AM on August 6, 2008


I got a 68 the first time, thinking it was low... then subsequently scored a 51 the second time around. WTF. So my memory sucks; that's what I learned. Thanks; thanks a bunch.
posted by heyho at 9:28 AM on August 6, 2008


Well I got 51, oh well.
posted by Mister_A at 9:38 AM on August 6, 2008


36, not thinking well this moring.
posted by etaoin at 9:57 AM on August 6, 2008


49 -- i'm uncommon, i guess
posted by NikitaNikita at 10:42 AM on August 6, 2008


Well I use "cheese" more than bullshit words like "of"
posted by aubilenon at 10:44 AM on August 6, 2008


No, but not yes? I'm surprised at that.
posted by Phalene at 8:42 AM on August 6 [+] [!]


I'm pretty sure that's because "no" has adverbial and adjectival uses that "yes" doesn't: "no more", "no one", "no better", etc.
posted by squarehead at 10:58 AM on August 6, 2008


I counted up the 100 most common 'words' for the Google unigram data, and the following 'words' from the Quiz 100 are not found in the Google data:
call, come, could, day, did, down, each, go, had, her, him, hot, know, long, look, make, many, most, number, over, people, said, she, side, sound, them, then, thing, two, water, way, word, write

and the following words are in the Google data, but not in the Quiz data:
also, am, any, business, c, click, contact, e, free, get, help, here, home, information, its, me, new, news, not, online, only, our, page, pm, s, search, service, services, site, us, view, web, x
Also 's is in the Google top list.

The point is, I guess, that the 'domain' matters a lot, as well as what you count as a 'word.'
posted by wfitzgerald at 12:50 PM on August 6, 2008


53, but I cheated a little. I have an IRC bot in a channel my friends and I frequent, and it told me the top 10 words used there, which were:

word, times_seens
the: 14503
i: 12156
to: 9474
a: 7665
it: 6875
of: 5925
and: 5648
that: 5565
you: 4985
is: 4675

If I remember correctly, all of these were on the list.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 1:41 PM on August 6, 2008


41. Another baffled grouser regarding sample, lacking "me."
posted by klangklangston at 2:08 PM on August 6, 2008


Also missing:

Lol
butt
gay
porn
fuck
posted by klangklangston at 2:10 PM on August 6, 2008


38. I feel like a dolt. But it was fun.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 2:13 PM on August 6, 2008


57, which was better than I thought I'd do.
posted by oaf at 2:25 PM on August 6, 2008


Also surprised by the lack of "why"...

Carl Sagan wouldn't have been.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:55 PM on August 6, 2008


Yeah, it didn't have "fuck" which certainly suggests that this wasn't my 100 Most Common English Words.

It also didn't have "zombie", "monkey", or "obsequious" all of which I say constantly, and definitely more than "number" or "water", whatever the fuck that is.
posted by quin at 3:47 PM on August 6, 2008


62, feeling good about that. I'm guessing the source has a lot of fiction or news, due to the relatively high rating of "said" but not "say" or other variants.
posted by ErWenn at 4:09 PM on August 6, 2008


I got a few words just by reading the instructions at the top of the page. I would've felt pretty dumb if I hadn't.
posted by ErWenn at 4:09 PM on August 6, 2008


Wow, I only got 43. Those little suckers just disappear, I guess.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:02 PM on August 6, 2008


Forty-eight. I too doubted some of the words like water and number, but since I was nowhere near the level I thought I should be, I'll get pissed at that later.

Since I teach writing to first-year college students, I knew all of the passive constructions had to be there.
posted by beelzbubba at 6:32 PM on August 6, 2008


45. That was fun. What's up with words like "write?" I mean, not "happy," not "fun," but "write"?
posted by salvia at 7:36 PM on August 6, 2008


33 - pretty good for a foreigner
posted by ye#ara at 7:44 PM on August 6, 2008


47.

It's an interesting feeling, as your brain runs dry and the clock keeps ticking.

On the other hand, I copied out their list and found that I can just barely type in their hundred words in 5 minutes. (Even without having to wait for inspiration.)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 7:50 PM on August 6, 2008


It's an interesting feeling, as your brain runs dry and the clock keeps ticking.

Heh. Like life.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:00 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey that was fun! But I know too many words! I only got 31 right, because I kept thinking of all those other words I know.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:37 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


50. It was fun. Half the time the words were coming to me in the form of groups. Prepositions, question words, forms of "to be" etc. Interestingly, I found myself going to my second language to come up with the grammatical categories.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:13 PM on August 6, 2008


Oh, now you've got me interested...what are these rules, exactly?

They're more complicated than this, but generally speaking, shorter words derived from Germanic sources tend to form comparatives with -er / -est - one syllable words, almost always. Two syllable words generally follow this rule, but nearly always when they end in a vowel, such as "yellow" or "ugly." Three or more syllables only rarely use -er and -est, such as "summery / more summery / most summery." So, longer Germanic-sourced words use "more" or "most."

If a word's not of Germanic origin, it almost always uses "more" and "most." In part, this is probably because few monosyllabic adjectives are non-Germanic. I can only think of a few exceptions to this, such as "nice," which has been around for 700 or so years and is a sort of condensation of a longer root word. Exceptions aside, you can sometimes tell when an adjective is non-Germanic (which usually means Latinate) and only has one syllable, but still tends to use "more" and "most" to form comparatives, such as the word "tense." Newer non-Germanic adjectives almost never use -er and -est . . . I'm trying to think of an example, but the only one which comes to mind would be something like "zen" in the sentence, "His idea is more zen than the one I had."

A significant exception to the Latinate rule is that there are words such as "messy," which are non-Germanic and have two syllables, but still use -er and -est. These exceptions almost always end in -y, and one could say that this Germanic manner of forming an adjective (that -y is a cognate of the German -ig) from a noun (as "mess" predates "messy") is why that exception exists. In other words, the word has been "Germanicized." That's how I look at it anyhow.

People who are native English speakers probably never realize that this is all something that needs to be "figured" out by English learners, and that few other languages (of the ones I know, at any rate) have this problematic dichotomy in the formation of comparisons.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:17 PM on August 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Damnit. How did I forget "to"? I got WATER for christ's sake.
posted by tehloki at 2:46 AM on August 7, 2008


The 100 most common words of the average British squaddie:

1. Fuck
2. Fucking
3. Fuckup
4. Fucktwat
..
97. Wanker
98. Bollocks
99. The
100. Is
posted by MuffinMan at 5:11 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


50.

Seems pretty average.

But it's not.

It's mean.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:21 AM on August 12, 2008


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