Top 50 Words in English Conversation

Here's a handy list that's not so easy to find online: the top 50 most frequent words of spoken North American English according to the Cambridge International Corpus.

  1. I
  2. and
  3. the
  4. you
  5. uh
  6. to
  7. a
  8. that
  9. it
  10. of
  11. yeah
  12. know
  13. in
  14. like
  15. they
  16. have
  17. so
  18. was
  19. but
  20. is
  21. it's
  22. we
  23. huh
  24. just
  25. oh
  26. do
  27. don't
  28. that's
  29. well
  30. for
  31. what
  32. on
  33. think
  34. right
  35. not
  36. um
  37. or
  38. my
  39. be
  40. really
  41. with
  42. he
  43. one
  44. are
  45. this
  46. there
  47. I'm
  48. all
  49. if
  50. no

Comparing this list to the 500 or so I came up with in my last post on essential English vocabulary, I noticed a handful of words present in this list and not in the other.

  • don't
  • huh
  • I'm
  • it's
  • oh
  • really
  • that's
  • uh
  • um
  • yeah

Contractions seem to have been systematically excluded from the other lists, and some of these are really particular to conversation, but I was kind of surprised to see `really` and `yeah` show up here. They're definitely less common in the written language but still essential any way you look at it.

Sifting through my list of the 100 or so most common words in recent Hollywood movies, I found these gems, which somehow didn't appear in any of the other lists! I guess that's why it pays to have multiple sources.

  • guy
  • hello
  • hey
  • hi
  • maybe
  • Mr.
  • Mrs.
  • Ms.
  • OK
  • sorry
  • yes

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