25 Fun Facts about the English Language

English Fun Facts

The English language is extraordinarily rich, complicated, and interesting. Its nonsensical rules have perplexed the most diligent of students, but its use as a global language only continues to increase. Consider the following fun facts about the English language.

  1. English is the third most common language used around the world, with 335 million native speakers. It follows Chinese, with 1.2 billion native speakers and Spanish, with 399 native speakers.
  2. There are more non-native English speakers than there are native speakers: 750 million, compared to 335 million.
  3. Despite being third in native usage, English is the most commonly used language in the sciences.
  4. In the publishing industry, 21.84% of all books are printed in English.
  5. 62.55% of all periodicals are in English.
  6. Japan considers English to be an official language.
  7. The United States does not claim English as an official language.
  8. The most common letter in English is “e.” That is also the most common vowel.
  9. The most common consonant in English is “r,” followed by “t.”
  10. Every syllable in English must have a vowel.
  11. Not all syllables have consonants.
  12. Only two English words in current use end in “-gry”. They are “angry” and “hungry”.
  13. The word “bookkeeper” (along with its associate “bookkeeping”) is the only unhyphenated English word with three consecutive double letters. Other such words, like “sweet-toothed”, require a hyphen to be readily readable.
  14. More English words begin with the letter “s” than with any other letter.
  15. A preposition is always followed by a noun (ie noun, proper noun, pronoun, noun group, gerund).
  16. A sentence that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet is called a “pangram“.
  17. The word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha, bēta.
  18. The dot over the letter “i” and the letter “j” is called a “superscript dot”.
  19. Some words exist only in plural form, for example, glasses (spectacles), binoculars, scissors, shears, tongs, gallows, trousers, jeans, pants, pajamas (but note that clothing words often become singular when we use them as modifiers, as in “trouser pocket”).
  20. The shortest complete sentence in English is the following. “I am.”
  21. We pronounce the combination “ough” in 9 different ways, as in the following sentence which contains them all: “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”
  22. The longest English word without a true vowel (a, e, i, o or u) is “rhythm”.
  23. There are only 4 English words in common use ending in “-dous”: hazardous, horrendous, stupendous, and tremendous.
  24. We can find 10 words in the 7-letter word “therein” without rearranging any of its letters: the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.
  25. The following sentence contains seven identical words in a row and still makes sense. “It is true for all that that that that that that that refers to is not the same that that that that refers to.” In other words, “It is true, despite everything you say, that this word to which this word refers is not the same word to which this word refers.”

Read more fun facts about languages.

What are the 10 hardest languages for English speakers to learn?

Categories: Customs, Languages

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3 replies »

  1. Not to call you a dumb [deleted] and all, but “Every syllable in English must have a vowel.” is proven untrue two points later, with the words “angry” and “hungry”, neither of which have a vowel in their second syllable.

    Get it together, mate.


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