Did you know that there are about 6,500 spoken languages used around the world? About 2,000 of these languages have 1,000 or fewer speakers, and many of these languages are considered endangered. On the other end of the spectrum, nearly half of the world’s entire population speaks one of ten languages
What are the most spoken languages in the world? Figuring out what the most used languages in the world are is more challenging than it may seem at first glance. Do you count only native speakers? Second-language speakers? What about communities of speakers outside the main country where the language is spoken? Or even different dialects?
There’s a lot to consider when asking “what is the most common language?”
With the number of native English speakers and L2 English speakers around the world (L2 speakers are those who speak a language as their second language), it may be easy to assume English is the most spoken language in the world. It is, however, a little way down the list, especially when measuring a language by population.
Looking at all the languages in the world, these are the most common languages spoken across the globe.
What is the #1 language in the world in terms of speakers? It’s Chinese. Wondering just how many people speak Chinese? It earns its rank as the number 1 language with over one billion speakers. Mandarin Chinese is spoken in People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and Singapore.
A few facts about the Mandarin language:
After Mandarin, Spanish is the next most spoken language in the world. There are many dialects of Spanish spoken across Europe, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, but the language originated in the Castile region of Spain.
A few facts about the Spanish language:
English is the modern lingua franca of the world--the presence and actions of the British Empire playing a large role in this. It’s the world’s third most spoken language in terms of native speakers.
A few facts about the English language:
Hindi is a language spoken in India and it is the official language of the Indian government. It’s mutually intelligible with Urdu.
A few facts about the Hindi language:
The official language of Bangladesh, Bengali is the official language of Bangladesh and one of the most spoken languages of India.
A few facts about the Bengali language:
Portuguese is a language related to Spanish and it is spoken in Portugal and Brazil. The name of the language comes from a word meaning “port”.
A few facts about the Portuguese language:
Russian is the most-spoken Slavic language in the world. It an official language in Russian, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It’s related closely to Ukrainian and Belarusian and more distantly related to languages like Serbian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Czech, Polish, Slovak, and Bosnian.
A few facts about the Russian language:
Japanese is one of the most geographically concentrated languages on this list of the most spoken languages in the world because nearly all of the world’s native Japanese speakers live in Japan. Beyond Japan, there are also large groups of native Japanese speakers in the US, Philippines, and Brazil.
A few facts about the Japanese language:
Punjabi is a language spoken in India and Eastern Pakistan. It’s also the fourth most spoken language in the UK.
A few facts about the Western Punjabi language:
Marathi is another language on this list primarily spoken in India. It has the third largest number of native speakers in India after Hindi and Bengali.
A few facts about the Marathi language:
If the several dialects of Arabic were combined as a single language, it would fall at number 5 on this list of top languages spoken around the world. In the same vein, Chinese could be combined with Mandarin, Wu, and Yue (and often is on different lists of the most common languages spoken around the world).
After the ten languages mentioned above, the next ten most popular languages in the world in order are: Telugu, Wu Chinese, Turkish, Korean, French, German, Vietnamese, Tamil, Yue Chinese, and Urdu.
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