Mastering the Basics – 100 Most Common Words in English

The English language is a kaleidoscope of words, each with its unique hue and shade of meaning. And while it’s adorned with a vast vocabulary, there’s a set of words that stand as its backbone: the 100 most common words in English. These words may appear simple, but they’re essential in weaving the tapestry of everyday communication. For anyone diving into learning a language, familiarising oneself with these common words in English is an invaluable starting point.

Table of Common Words in English

Word Use/Meaning Origin
a indefinite article; one Old English ān meaning “one”
about concerning; approximately Old English abūtan, onbūtan meaning “on the outside of”
all the whole quantity Old Norse allr
an used before words that start with a vowel sound Old English
and used to connect words of the same part of speech Old English and, ond
are second person singular of ‘be’ Old English earun, earon
as used to indicate a role or capacity Old English als
at expressing location or time Old Norse at, æt
be exist; occur Old English bēon
but used to introduce a contrast Old Norse en, enn
by indicating the means of achieving something Old Norse byggja
can able to Old Norse kanna
do perform or carry out Old English dōn
for in support of; because of Old English for
from indicating the point in space where an action starts Old English fram, from
have possess; own Old Norse hafa
he male personal pronoun Old Norse hann
her female objective pronoun Old English hire
him male objective pronoun Old English him, heom
his belonging to or associated with a male person Old Norse hans
I used by a speaker to refer to themselves Old English ic
if introducing a condition or supposition Old Norse if, ef
in expressing a state or condition Old Norse inn, inna
is third person singular of ‘be’ Old Norse is, from vera
it used to refer to a thing previously mentioned or easily identified Old Norse it, hit
like similar to Old Norse líka
me used by a speaker to refer to themselves Old Norse mik
my belonging to or associated with the speaker Old Norse minn
no expressing a negative response Old Norse ne, na
not used to deny a statement’s truth or accuracy Old Norse not, ne
of expressing the relationship between a part and a whole Old Norse af
on physically in contact with and supported by Old Norse an, on
one a single person or thing Old Norse einn
or used to link alternatives Old Norse eða
she female personal pronoun Old English sīe, sēo, se
so to such a great extent Old English swā
that introducing a subordinate clause Old Norse þat, from þat er
the denoting one or more people or things already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge Old English þē, þēo, þæt
their belonging to or associated with people mentioned Old Norse þeirra
them used as the object of a verb or preposition Old Norse þeim
they used to refer to two or more people Old Norse þeir
this referring to a specific thing Old Norse þessi
to expressing motion in a direction Old Norse at, til
was past tense of ‘be’ Old Norse vara
we pronoun representing the speaker and others Old English wē
were past tense of ‘be’ Old Norse vǣri
will expressing future tense Old English willan
with accompanied by Old Norse við
you used to refer to the person being addressed Old Norse þū, þēr
your possessive form of ‘you’ Old English ēower
after following in time Old English æfter
again another time Old Norse igen
always at all times Middle English: combination of all and way
because for the reason that Middle English: shortening of by cause that
before preceding in time Old English beforan
could past of “can” Old English cūð, past tense of cunnan
day a period of 24 hours Old English dæg
does third person singular of “do” Middle English, from Old English dōes, 2nd person of dōn
during throughout the course of Middle English: from dure + -ing
each every one of two or more Old English ælc, from ā “ever” + lc “alike”
even flat and smooth Old English efne
ever at any time Old English ǣfre
every each single one Old English ǣfre + lic “like”
get come to have or hold Old Norse geta
go move from one place to another Old English gān
good to be desired or approved of Old English gōd
had past and past participle of “have” Old Norse hafa
has third person singular of “have” Old English has, 2nd person of hafa
her possessive form of ‘she’ Old English hire
how in what way or manner Old English
its possessive form of ‘it’ Modern English, specialized use of it
know be aware of Old English cnāwan
make form by combining materials or parts Old English macian
man an adult human male Old English mann
many a large number of Old English manig
more a greater quantity Old English māra
most in the greatest degree Old English mǣst
much a large amount Old English mycel
must be obliged to Old English mōste, past tense of mōt
never not at any time Old English nǣfre, from ne “not” + ǣfre “ever”
now at the present time Old English
only and no one or nothing more Old English ānlīc, from ān “one” + -līc “like”
other a person or thing that is different Old English ōðer
out moving away from the inside Old English ūt
over extending upward from Old English ofer
same identical; not different Old Norse sami
see perceive with the eyes Old Norse sjá
should used to indicate obligation Old English sceolde, past of shall
some an unspecified amount or number Old Norse sumr
such of the type previously mentioned Old Norse slikr
than used to introduce the second element in a comparison Old English þanne
then at that time Old English þænne
think have a particular belief or idea Old English þencan
time an indefinite continued progress of existence Old English tīma
use take or consume Old French user
way a method or manner of doing something Old English weg
well in a good or satisfactory way Old Norse vell
what asking for information Old Norse hwat
when at what time Old English hwanne, hwænne