What are the Most Commonly Used Words in English?

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The most commonly used words in English that made it to the top 10 are words that are parts of speech. These words are used by native and non-native speakers alike. It is the basis of all the essential words in the English dictionary. Knowing the fundamentals of this language is vital to step into broadening our language knowledge. In this article, we also included the common ways on how a non-native speaker of English can speak English fluently.

So, what are the ten most commonly used words in English? Let’s take a look at this list:

Everyday english yellow book

1. The

Pronunciation: It is commonly pronounced as /t͟hə/ and usually /t͟hē/. The first pronunciation is generally used before consonants and sometimes before vowels. The latter usually appears before vowels and to emphasize and give distinction to titles and names.

Etymology: It came from Middle English, and its first known use is its function as a definite article before the 12th century.

Common Usage: ‘The’ is an article word. It’s a function word that shows that the next noun word or noun equal to it is definite or previously mentioned.

Example: Turn off the lights.

It also appears before a noun word to indicate natural phenomena

Example: The summer solstice.

“The” also labels the next noun or noun with the same equal state is a rare or a very particular being of its class.

Example: the King

This function word appears before a proper like as in a renowned landmark as well.

Example: the Statue of Liberty

2. Of

Pronunciation: /əv/

Etymology: The word ‘of’ was first known and used before the 12th century. It was used as a preposition and as an auxiliary verb.

Common Usage: It expresses separation from something.

Example: relieved of burdens

‘Of’ is also used before an epithet to indicate birthplace, residence, or any place closely related to the individual.

Example: Jesus of Nazareth, Saint Anthony of Padua

The word ‘of’ also indicates cause or reason.

Example: obligated of liabilities

It also acts as a function word corresponding direction to the point of estimation

Example: to the south of the city

‘Of” also indicates the origin or source of something.

Example: the blood of great lineage

Lastly, it relays the same meaning as the word ‘about.’

Example: fondness of babies

3. To

Pronunciation: /to͞o/ and sometimes /tə/.

Etymology: The word ‘to’ is both a preposition and an adverb. Early records show that English speakers used this word long before the 12th century.

Common Usage:

‘To’ is a function word that describes movement or action. It also pertains to a motion suggesting a movement toward someplace, a person, or a thing.

Example: went to the office, drove to the farm

You can also use this function word to signal direction or command.

Example: moved closer to me

‘To’ also indicates application or attention.

Example: shall dance to, I would love to

4. And

Pronunciation: /ænd/ or /(ə)n/

Etymology: It is an Old English of ‘and,’ ‘on’ with a Germanic origin. It is related to Dutch’s ‘en’ and the German’s ‘und.’ English and German. Notably, it originates from the same family of languages.

Common Usage:

‘And’ connects words existing in the same part of speech, clauses, or sentences are supposedly taken together.

Example: ham and cheese

It also connects clauses, where the second clause is the result of the first.

Example: He stood and turned away.

It also denotes introduction before saying a new statement unrelated to the first context.

Example: and now to start anew

5. A

The word ‘a’ is an indefinite article. When capitalized, it is the first letter of the alphabet.

Pronunciation: /ā /eɪ / and as /ə/

Etymology: As an indefinite article, the word ‘a’ was first known and used before the 12th century. It originated in Middle English, from the Old English of ‘ā’ which means one.

Common Usage:

‘A’ refers to someone or something for the first time in a dialogue or script.

Example: a thief lurking in the dark, a stranger grabbed my hand

It also appears before units of measure to indicate only one unit.

Example: a million

It also signifies membership in a class of people or things.

Example: He is a politician.

6. In

Pronunciation: /in/

Etymology: As a preposition and an adverb, it was first known and used before the 12th century. In 1599, it was used as an adjective.

Common Usage:

As a preposition, it is used as a function word to signify location.

Example: in the car

As an adverb, it means to move toward the inside of an enclosed area.

Example: Get in the room.

‘In also specifies a relation.

Example: in bad blood with a friend

You cam also use ‘in’ as an adjective.

Example: the in game

7. Is

Pronunciation: /is/

Etymology: It came from Middle English and Old English; it is similar to the Old High German word ‘ist,’ the Latin word ‘est’ and ‘esti’ of Greek.

Common Usage:

-present tense third-person singular of BE

-dialectal present tense first-person and third-person singular of BE

-dialectal present tense plural of BE

8. It

Pronunciation: /it/


As a pronoun, the word ‘it’ was first known and used before the 12th century. As a noun, it was first used in 1842.

Common Usage:

‘It’ denotes the thing formerly mentioned.

Example: A flower with bees that dances to it.

It also refers to the neuter gender; an animal, child, or someone with unspecified sex or gender.

Example: I wonder who it is.

You can also use this pronoun to refer to an abstract object.

Example: The law is above man as it shall be.

As a noun, it pertains to a person engaged in a game, especially hide-and-seek, to indicate the player to perform the game’s action.

Example: He is it, so he goes after us.

9. You

Pronunciation: /yo͞o/ /ju/

Etymology: The first known use of the word ‘you’ was way back in the 12th century.

Common Usage:

‘You’ is used to address a person.

Example: Can you hear me?

10. That

Pronunciation: /T͟Hat/ /ðæt

Etymology: The first known use of the word ‘that’ was in the 12th century. As an adverb, the first known use was in the 13th century.

Common Usage:

‘That’ classifies any specific being or thing that is being observed by the speaker.

Example: That is a magnificent painting.

This word also indicates the time, action, or event that is being talked about.

Example: And that ends the story.

You can also use it to describe an extent.

Example: about that short

And that sums up the list of the top 10 most commonly used words in English!

Tips on How You Can Be Able to Speak English Fluently What are the Most Commonly Used Words in English?

Take notes!

Jot down words you never encountered before. If you heard a new term used by someone you know, find a way to ask what it means. Look for its meaning and save it as if you are making your very own dictionary. This way, you don’t have to wait every single time for silly ‘word of the day’ notifications on your phone. Make the words come to you. And of course, be sure to turn on your subtitles while watching Netflix. It does help!

Read as many books as you can.

Books can get you a long way. It does bring you to places. While looking for a new good read, make sure to find what interests you. Look for a certain genre that will make you want to read even more. You will eventually bore yourself if you do otherwise.

Converse in English.

In a survey conducted in America, the number one fear Americans fear the most is public speaking. It accounts for about 25.3% in the year 2013. But you don’t have to be afraid of speaking out to the public. Begin with a friend who you can talk to in English completely. And if you can’t start with straight English words, you can do 50-50. As the day goes by, raise the percentage mark by using English more. In due time, you will get used to it. Soon enough, you can converse in English in full 100%.

Do not be afraid to make mistakes.

You are just starting. It is okay to stammer at some point; you’ll loosen it up in a bit. You won’t be an expert and a fluent English speaker in a day. It just don’t happen. It will take time, and you should take your time, too. As much as possible, invest in books or teaching-lessons as well. There is no shortage of free learning materials out there.

Know the basics.

We talked about the most commonly used words in English to help give knowledge to English learners, particularly to beginners like you. Once you know the basic English words, you have the foundation to go out there and learn more.

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