Learning a language is a challenging task, and vocabulary is a crucial element of language learning. In this blog, we will explore the 95/5 rule, the number of words in the English language, and other interesting topics related to English vocabulary.

The 95/5 Rule

The 95/5 rule states that 95% of a language can be learned by mastering the most common 5% of its vocabulary. This principle applies to language learning, and by focusing on the most commonly used words, learners can achieve proficiency faster. Applying Pareto’s principle in language learning involves identifying and prioritizing high-frequency words.

About the English Language

English has a rich history that dates back to the fifth century. The English alphabet comprises 26 letters, and the average English vocabulary is around 20,000 to 35,000 words. English is one of the most widely spoken languages globally, with approximately 1.5 billion speakers worldwide.

Number of Words in the English Language

Estimating the number of words in the English language is a complex process. The Oxford English Dictionary estimates that there are around 170,000 words in current use, with an additional 47,000 obsolete words. Compared to other languages, English has a vast vocabulary, with only a few languages having more words.

How Many Words Do You Need to Know to Be Fluent in English?

The relationship between vocabulary size and fluency is complex, and the number of words required to achieve fluency varies. Some estimates suggest that around 3,000 words are necessary to achieve basic fluency, while others suggest 10,000 or more. Learning strategies such as context-based learning and spaced repetition can help learners increase their vocabulary.

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The Role of Shakespeare in English

Shakespeare is one of the most significant contributors to the English language, and his works have added over 1,700 words to the English vocabulary. Some of the most famous words and phrases coined by Shakespeare include “all’s well that ends well,” “break the ice,” and “wild-goose chase.”

French and Old English Influence on English Vocabulary

French and Old English are two of the most significant influences on English vocabulary. Around 29% of English words are of French origin, while around 26% are of Old English origin. Examples of French and Old English words in English include “chef” and “knight,” respectively.

Word Repetition in English

Repeating words is a common technique used to create new words in English. Examples of repeated words in English include “chitchat,” “flip-flop,” and “ping-pong.” This technique is often used to create new words to describe emerging concepts or technologies.

Language with the Biggest Vocabulary

English is one of the languages with the largest vocabulary, with only a few languages having more words. Chinese and Arabic are also languages with vast vocabularies, with estimates of around 50,000 and 12 million words, respectively.

How Many Words Do Native Speakers Use in Daily Life?

Native speakers of English use around 2,000 to 3,000 words in daily life. These words make up around 80% of daily communication. The most commonly used words in English include “the,” “be,” and “to.”

Applying Pareto’s Law in Language Learning

Applying Pareto’s law in language learning involves focusing on the most commonly used words and phrases. Strategies for using this principle include learning contextually and using spaced repetition to reinforce learning.

Slang and Jargon in English

Slang and jargon are terms used to describe words and phrases that are not commonly used in standard English. Slang words are informal words used among a particular group of people, while jargon refers to words used in a specific industry or profession. 

While learning slang and jargon can be fun and interesting, it’s important to note that they can also be a hindrance to language learning as they may not be understood by non-native speakers or in formal settings.


In conclusion, building a strong vocabulary is essential to mastering a language. Understanding the 95/5 rule and applying the Pareto Principle can help language learners focus on the most useful words for everyday communication. 

While English is a complex language with a large vocabulary, learning strategies and techniques can help learners improve their proficiency. By avoiding slang and jargon and focusing on commonly used words, language learners can accelerate their progress towards fluency.