Wordlists page

Home Principles - Main Wordlists page

Updated 2009/02/10

This page has my own word lists, but look here for other lists.

Just for fun (or seriousness...)

"Word Count is an artistic experiment in the way  we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonness. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving  a visual barometer of relevance. The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is.

The lists

It may be best to read this first before downloading as they may not be what you want. 

There are four sets of lists so choose carefully.

Set A) a list of the 2000 most frequent words from a variety of sources.  This list is based on range, which means how frequently it appears in a wide variety of texts

Set B) The word lists that are part of Paul Nation's Range  program (used with permission). These are (almost) pure frequency only lists. Note that the content of this list is different from the lists mentioned above but most are the same.

Set C) Two lists of words for "academic" study, i.e. as preparation for getting into university

Set D) There is also a lemmatized list of the first 2000 words (headwords only) for students to learn from. 

Some possible uses of the lists.

Frequency list of multi-word units

Want to make your own lists?

LexTutor is a great site

Then Mike Barlow's website is the best there is.

You may want to try Wordsmith Tools or MonoConc as two windows programs for analyzing large corpora.

Try Range by Nation and Heatley.  It allows you to see how many words are used in each of several texts.

Or Lawrence Anthony's programs for concordancing and making lists


In your web browser click on the file you want and the text will spill out onto your page, then choose 'save' from the file menu (or wherever it is) and save the file to disk. I advise saving it as 'text'.

Set A Lists

Each list combines all the words at that level alphabetically NOT numerically. There are several lists. They are the same set of 2000 words but broken into segments:

The full 2000

The first 500 only

The first 1000 only

Various subgroups

501-1000    1-1000   1001-2000   1001-1500   1501-2000  

Set B Lists

There are two types of list in this section

* The headword only lists, and
* The headword with word family lists.

What's the difference?

Headword only lists.

Those that list the headwords only list only the headword of the main family such as 'able', but not 'ably', 'unable', etc.



To get the first one thousand most common words in English list click here. (Words 1-1000). Note that it is not exactly one thousand as some numbers and so on have been omitted.

To get the second one thousand most common words in English list click here. (Words 1001-2000 or thereabouts).

Word family list.

Those that list many of the word family members will have the affixes - not not all combinations are covered and you will find gaps. You should of course note that each family member which has a different frequency have been put under one heading. I'm not sure if the frequency count Paul used was a sum of all the word family members or just the frequency of the headword. Either way you should be aware of that.



To get the first one thousand (words 1-1000) most common words in English list complete with word families click here. Note that it is not exactly one thousand as some numbers and so on have been omitted.

To get the second one thousand most common words in English (words 1001 -2000) with their word families click here. The word families broadly contain inflections with a few derivatives thrown in for good measure.

Set C Lists (The 'academic') lists

The Academic word list written by Averil Coxhead is here.  It effectively replaces the University Wordlist. The University Word List was a list of words often found in academic texts, but does not exactly take off from the end of the second thousand most frequent word list. To get the old University Word List with word families click here. (About 800 headwords)

Go to the Vocabulary Frequency Lists.
Go to the Vocabulary Reference database
Go to the Main Vocabulary index