What is the Most Common English Word?

Since the 1960s, computers have been able to store and analyze increasingly large amounts of data. Today, we can take all the words found in books, newspapers, magazines, and more, and store them in a database. What’s more, we can also do this with spoken language (although the process of converting it to text and storing it is more difficult).

 

storage

Large collections of language, used for studying and analyzing the language, are called corpora. One collection is called a corpus. A good corpus which can give us reliable information about a language needs to be based on millions of words. The largest American corpus today consists of over 520 million words (http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/). In Britain, several exist containing over a billion words!

Most corpora of American (and British) English say the same thing: the most common word in English is the

So it is not surprising: If we ask “What is the most common word in English?” we will see the word the in the question itself!!

What are some other very frequent words? And, be, of, to, a/an, in, have, that, I, are just some of the most common words which we are sure you already know!

corpus

TOEFL: 10 INDEPENDENT WRITING TOPICS (FOR PRACTICE)

The TOEFL exam allows 30 minutes to complete the “Independent Writing” section. This should usually be 4-5 paragraphs in which you defend a position (viewpoint) you choose on an assigned topic. We will post something soon which breaks down how much time to spend on different activities during this time to complete your essay (e.g. brainstorming, writing, editing & proofreading).

toefl write

To begin practicing writing essays, here are 10 writing prompts which have appeared on ACTUAL (real) past TOEFL tests.

(These are also good for practicing independent speaking questions, too — just give yourself 45 seconds to talk on these subjects.)

1. People attend college or university for many different reasons (for example, new experiences, career preparation, increased knowledge). Why do you think people attend college or university? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Parents are the best teachers. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

3. Nowadays, food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

4. It has been said, “Not everything that is learned is contained in books.” Compare and contrast knowledge gained from experience with knowledge gained from books. In your opinion, which source is more important? Why?

5. A company has announced that it wishes to build a large factory near your community. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this new influence on your community. Do you support or oppose the factory? Explain your position.

6. If you could change one important thing about your hometown, what would you change? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

7. How do movies or television influence people’s behavior? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

8. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Television has destroyed communication among friends and family. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

9. Some people prefer to live in a small town. Others prefer to live in a big city. Which place would you prefer to live in? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

10. “When people succeed, it is because of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with success.” Do you agree or disagree with the quotation above? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your position.