SpanishDict Blog | 1,000 Words Is All You Need for Spanish
Jan 27 / 0 Comments / Language

One of the most common questions I get from people learning a new language is this: “How many words do I need to know to be able to have a conversation?” The answer is different for everyone, and it definitely depends on what kind of things you want to talk about. If you are learning Spanish as part of your job and do business with Spanish speakers, then your minimum vocabulary will be a lot different than someone who is learning Spanish so they can surf off the coast of Peru or someone who wants to study classical Spanish poetry in Madrid.

How many does a person actually use?

The average person has a vocabulary of about 10,000 words, but it is possible that a person can understand many more words than he or she actually uses. This number is the same no matter what language the person speaks. However, the number of words that he or she actually uses on a day to day basis is much lower. Think of your total vocabulary number (including all those words you learned to take the SAT or the GRE) versus the words you use to chat with your friends or talk about your weekend. Pretty different, right?

Research shows that in an average day, we use about 1,000 different words. Day to day, the words we use do not vary too much either, meaning we tend to stick with about a basic daily vocabulary of around 1,000 words. Some research has even shown that young teens only have a daily vocabulary count of 240 words! And some experts say that 50% of all spoken language consists of the 100 most common words in that language.

So how many do I actually need?

So take your pick! You can probably get around a Spanish-speaking country if you know the 100 most common words, but the closer your daily vocabulary is to 1,000 or above the better. So get started! You know where the vocabulary lists are!


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