100 words that make the most of written English



Ahmad Naeem Khan

In early ’90s, when I joined journalism in the newsroom as an editor, seniors there often told newcomers English journalism in Pakistan revolves round 72 words and if you know these words you are good to survive in this profession.

Now, its almost 25 years on and I find these studies about most frequently used words in English language. The first 100 are said to make up about half of all written material. The first 25 make up about one-third of all printed material in English and the first 300 make up about sixty-five percent of all written material in English.

These are the most common words in English, ranked in frequency order: the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, it, he, was, for, on, are, as, with, his, they, I, at, be, this, have, from, or, one, had, by, word, but, not, what, all, were, we, when, your, can, said, there, use, an, each, which, she, do, how, their, if, will, up, there, about, out, many, then, them, these, so, some, her, would, make, like, him, into, time, has, look, two, more, write, go, see, number, no, way, could, people, my, than, first, water, been, call, who, oil, its, now, find, long, down, day, did, get, come, made, may, part.

Another study, The Brown Corpus Standard Sample of Present-Day American English (Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1979), cites: the, of, and, to, a, in, that, is, was, he, for, it, with, as, his, on, be, at, by, I, this, had, not, are, but, from, or, have, an, they, which, one, you, were, all, her, she, there, would, their, we, him, been, has, when, who, will, no, more, if, out, so, up, said, what, its, about, than, into, them, can, only, other, time, new, some, could, these, two, may, first, then, do, any, like, my, now, over, such, our, man, me, even, most, made, after, also, did, many, off, before, must, well, back, through, years, much, where, your, way.


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