English Vocabulary Word Lists with Games, Puzzles and Quizzes

Nolls' Top 3,000 American English Words

By Paul and Bernice Noll

Discussion of the 3,000 Words List

This is a list of the 3,000 most commonly used words in American newspapers and popular magazines. We compiled this list by taking forty newspapers and magazines and simply sorting the words and then counting the frequency of the words.

We broke them down in groups of 200. The frequency of use is true for the groups but not within the groups. For convenience I sorted the words within each group of 200.

Also if you should count the words you would find that there are fewer than 3,000 words. Actually there are 2,126 words listed. This is true because I removed words that were simply plurals of words. For example "tree" is on the third and fourth hundred-word list so I removed "trees" as somewhat unnecessary. Also I removed some but not all simple regular past tense words where I thought it would serve little purpose. I also removed the regular words duplicated in the "ing" suffix. For example "spell" is there but I removed "spelling" and "spelled".

This list is useful for the student who wishes a vocabulary list for simple conversation. It is an excellent base to begin with.

It is interesting to note that the list is very contemporary. For example the names Paul and George are on the list. This is no doubt due to Pope Paul and President George Bush at the time the list was compiled. Note that when a word is capitalized it is a person's name, a proper noun or title. For example Miss is a title, while miss is a verb or a noun.

The Lists

  1. 01st and 02nd Hundred Words (187)
  2. 03rd and 04th Hundred Words (160)
  3. 05th and 06th Hundred Words (161)
  4. 07th and 08th Hundred Words (146)
  5. 09th and 10th Hundred Words (152)
  6. 11th and 12th Hundred Words (144)
  7. 13th and 14th Hundred Words (143) *
  8. 15th and 16th Hundred Words (137)
  9. 17th and 18th Hundred Words (140)
  10. 19th and 20th Hundred Words (115)
  11. 21st and 22nd Hundred Words (140)
  12. 23rd and 24th Hundred Words (124) *
  13. 25th and 26th Hundred Words (123)
  14. 27th and 28th Hundred Words (126)
  15. 29th and 30th Hundred Words (126)

* Note: We removed 1/2 and 1/4 from two of the lists since these would cause problems in some of the games.

Source: http://www.paulnoll.com/China/Teach/English-3000-common-words.html (Used with Permission.)

This page is part of Interesting Things for ESL Students.