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ELC Santa Barbara Learning Core English Vocabulary September 18th, 2015

The Oxford English Corpus is an English collection of texts that keeps track of all the words English speakers use in real conversations and writing. According to this official book the number of words English speakers currently use is around 50,000 – 1,000,000 words. Of those words you only need to know 10 words in order to understand 25% of what English speakers say and write and only 100 words to understand 50% of what native speakers say and write.

There are only a small percentage of English words that are considered core vocabulary, words that are highly used by native English speakers. For example, a word like “hello” is much more highly used than a word like “autocracy”. The Macmillan English dictionary highlights which words are considered core English words or words that are frequently used by native speakers.

Really, your English proficiency and growth comes down to knowing the right words. From there you can expand your vocabulary to gain fluency. But in order to advance rapidly in your English language skills, it is helpful to learn the right words.  These words can be considered core English vocabulary. Once you learn these commonly used words it will be much easier to speak and write in English!

Below are a few example core English words and their definitions so you can get started on becoming an English master! Since these words are more highly used they often have multiple meanings based on the context and how the word is being used. Focus on not just knowing the vocabulary word but also on being comfortable using the word correctly in a sentence.

Example Core English Vocabulary Words:

Realize (Verb):

  1. Become fully aware of (something) as a fact; understand clearly

“He realized he made a mistake after taking you pointed it out to him.”

  1. Cause something desired or anticipated to happen

“Our loans are helping a small business realize their dreams.”

  1. Fulfill

“It is only now that she is beginning to realize her potential.”

(Source: Oxford Dictionary).

Improve (verb):

  1. Make or become better

“His health improved after he ate more nutritional meals.”

Quite (adjective):

  1. To the most absolute extent or degree; absolutely; completely.

“It’s quite out of the question”

  1. Very; really

“I’m quite sorry that your cat died.”

Oxford English Language