Know the facts about the English language.

Know the facts about English.

What you want to know…

  • Nº 1: Did you know that English is spoken as a FIRST language by about 400 million people in the world, and as a second language (ESL) by another 400 million?
  • Nº 2: The number of people who are learning English as a second language is becoming greater than the number who speak it as a first language.
  • Nº 3: Did you know that one out of every four people in the world are thought to speak some English and over 750 million people are believed to speak it as a foreign language? (EFL). So, we can estimate that to date (2015) there are over 1.5 billion speakers of English globally.
  • Nº 4: English is the main language of books, newspapers, airports and air-traffic control, shipping, international business and academic conferences, science, technology, diplomacy, sport, international competitions, pop music and advertising.
  • Nº 5: Over two-thirds of the world’s scientists read in English.
  • Nº 6: Three quarters of the world’s mail is written in English.
  • Nº 7: Eighty per cent of the world’s electronically stored information is in English.
  • Nº 8: Of the estimated 200 million users of the Internet, some thirty-six per cent communicate in English.
  • Nº 9: Around 700,000 people come to the U.K. to study the language each year.
  • Nº 10: Do you know that English has official or special status in at least seventy-five countries around the world and is spoken as a first language in many of these, namely: the U.K., the U.S.A. and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, India, and many, many more. (Countries where it is the Official Language.)

Know these fun facts about English (courtesy of Lingoda).

  1. English actually originates from what is now called north west Germany and the Netherlands.
  2. The phrase “long time no see” is believed to be a literal translation of a Native American or Chinese phrase as it is not grammatically correct.
  3. Go!” is the shortest grammatically correct sentence in English.
  4. The original name for butterfly was flutterby.
  5. About 4,000 words are added to the dictionary each year.
  6. The two most common words in English are I and you.
  7. 11% of the entire English language is just the letter E.
  8. The English language is said to be one of the happiest languages in the world – oh, and the word ‘happy’ is used 3 times more often than the word ‘sad’!
  9. 1/4 of the world’s population speaks at least some English.
  10. The US doesn’t have an official language. There are 24 different dialects of English in the US.
  11. English is the only major language that doesn’t have any organization guiding it – as opposed to the French Académie Française, the Spanish Real Academia Española and the German Rat für Deutsche Rechtschreibung. These organizations are responsible for controlling the evolution of their respective language in terms of usage, vocabulary, and grammar.
  12. The most common adjective used in English is ‘good’.
  13. The most commonly used noun is ‘time’.
  14. The word ‘set’ has the highest number of definitions.
  15. Month, orange, silver, and purple do not rhyme with any other word.
  16. The English language contains a lot of contronyms – words that can have contradictory meanings depending on context. You can read a list here!
  17. Words that are used to fill in time when speaking, such as ‘like’ or ‘basically’, are called crutch words (and should best be avoided!)
  18. 90% of English text consists of just 1000 words.
  19. The word ‘lol’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011.
  20. What is known as British accent came to use in and around London around the time of the American Revolution.
  21. Shakespeare invented many words, such as birthplace, blushing, undress, torture and many more.
  22. The word ‘Goodbye’ originally comes from an Old English phrase meaning ‘God be with you’.
  23. Etymologically, Great Britain means ‘great land of the tattooed’.
  24. There are seven ways to spell the sound ‘ee’ in English. This sentence contains all of them: ‘He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas’.
  25. Many English words have changed their meaning over time – for example, ‘awful’ used to mean ‘inspiring wonder’ and was a short version of ‘full of awe’, whereas ‘nice’ used to mean ‘silly’.
  26. The first English dictionary was written in 1755.
  27. The oldest English word that is still in use is ‘town’.

Complementary Content:

10 Interesting Facts About the English Language that You Didn’t Know.
66 Facts You May Not Have Known About The English Language.