The 100 Most Common Words in English

I've done some looking around to find a good list of the top 100 English words, but it's really hard to say which lists are "good" and which aren't. It all depends what you mean by "English" (conversational, literary, Internet...) and what you mean by "words". For example, are "a" and "an" one word? How about "be", "is", "were", and all that? Should words like "maybe" be counted individually or broken up into parts like "may" and "be"?

All that aside for a moment, I just decided to find as many top 100 word frequency lists as I could from different reliable sources and overlay them to see what they have in common. The lists I was able to find were from the Oxford corpus, the Brown corpus, the Horn list, the World English website (correcting one typo), a prioritized version of the General Service List, and the top 50 words of Cambridge's Conversational North American English corpus.

I'd really like more from Cambridge's conversational corpus, but I can't find it anywhere online. From Corpus to Classroom looks like it has all kinds of good information. I've read a really short pamphlet version, and I liked it a lot! That's actually where I got the list of the top 50 words in American English conversation.

The asterisks below represent lists in which a given word appeared. Words followed by five asterisks appeared in all six lists while those with none appeared in only one list. I've grouped some words together logically and broken them up into six chunks. You can rest assured that the first two or three chunks really are some of the most common words in the English language. So if you're teaching English, you'd better make sure you students are familiar with them.

  • a***** / an***
  • all*****
  • and*****
  • be***** / am / are*** / is*** / were** / was*** / been**
  • but*****
  • do***** / did** / don't
  • for*****
  • have***** / has** / had**
  • him*** / he***** / his*** / her*** / she****
  • if*****
  • in*****
  • it***** / its* / it's
  • like*****
  • me** / I***** / my**** / I'm
  • no*****
  • not*****
  • of*****
  • on*****
  • one*****
  • or*****
  • so*****
  • that***** / that's
  • the*****
  • them*** / they***** / their**
  • there*****
  • this***** / these***
  • to*****
  • us* / we***** / our**
  • what*****
  • with*****
  • you***** / your*** / yours
  • about****
  • as****
  • at****
  • by****
  • can****
  • could****
  • from****
  • know****
  • now****
  • out****
  • over****
  • some****
  • time****
  • up****
  • well****
  • when****
  • which****
  • will****
  • would****
  • after***
  • any***
  • come***
  • day***
  • first***
  • go***
  • just***
  • make*** / made*
  • may***
  • most***
  • other***
  • see***
  • than***
  • then***
  • think***
  • two***
  • way***
  • who***
  • also**
  • back**
  • before**
  • down**
  • even**
  • get** / got
  • how**
  • into**
  • look**
  • many**
  • more**
  • much**
  • new**
  • only**
  • people**
  • say** / said*
  • use**
  • work**
  • find*
  • give*
  • good*
  • long*
  • man*
  • must*
  • such*
  • take*
  • through*
  • where*
  • year* / years
  • because
  • call
  • dear
  • each
  • glad
  • great
  • here
  • huh
  • letter
  • number
  • oh
  • order
  • own
  • please
  • really
  • right
  • send
  • should
  • side
  • sound
  • state
  • thing
  • uh / um
  • very
  • want
  • water
  • word
  • write
  • yeah

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