The English language is as fascinating as it is popular and obviously has its own history and quirks. Instead of only focusing on grammar and other theoretical aspects, don’t forget to enjoy its more entertaining side. To help you with this task, we have compiled a list of thirty fun and interesting facts about the English language. Continue reading to learn them and get ready to impress your friends with your newly gained knowledge!
How many people speak English?
Over 840 million people speak English as a first or second language, which makes it the second most-spoken language right after Mandarin. It is an official language of a whopping 67 countries as well as 27 non-sovereign entities such as Hong Kong or Puerto Rico.
Let’s get to the fun facts about English language!
- English actually originates from what is now called north west Germany and the Netherlands.
- The phrase “long time no see” is believed to be a literal translation of a Native American or Chinese phrase as it is not grammatically correct.
- “Go!” is the shortest grammatically correct sentence in English. Find out some of the longest words in the English language here.
- The original name for butterfly was flutterby.
- About 4,000 words are added to the dictionary each year.
- The two most common words in English are I and you.
- 11% of the entire English language is just the letter E.
- The English language is said to be one of the happiest languages in the world – oh, and the word ‘happy’ is used 3 times more often than the word ‘sad’!
- 1/4 of the world’s population speaks at least some English.
- The US doesn’t have an official language.
- It is the only major language that doesn’t have any organisation guiding it – as opposed to the French Académie française, the Spanish Real Academia Española and the German Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung. These organisations are responsible for controlling the evolution of their respective language in terms of usage, vocabulary, and grammar.
- The most common adjective used in English is ‘good’.
- The most commonly used noun is ‘time’.
- The word ‘set’ has the highest number of definitions.
- Month, orange, silver, and purple do not rhyme with any other word.
- The English language contains a lot of contronyms – words that can have contradictory meanings depending on context. You can read a list here!
- Over 80% of the information stored on computers worldwide is in English.
- Words that are used to fill in time when speaking, such as ‘like’ or ‘basically’, are called crutch words (and should best be avoided!)
- English is the official language of 67 countries.
- 90% of English text consists of just 1000 words.
- There are 24 different dialects of English in the US.
- The word ‘lol’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011.
- What is known as British accent came to use in and around London around the time of the American Revolution.
- Shakespeare invented many words, such as birthplace, blushing, undress, torture and many more which you will find here!
- The word ‘Goodbye’ originally comes from an Old English phrase meaning ‘god be with you’.
- Etymologically, Great Britain means ‘great land of the tattooed’.
- There are seven ways to spell the sound ‘ee’ in English. This sentence contains all of them: ‘He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas’.
- Many English words have changed their meaning over time – for example, ‘awful’ used to mean ‘inspiring wonder’ and was a short version of ‘full of awe’, whereas ‘nice’ used to mean ‘silly’
- The first English dictionary was written in 1755.
- The oldest English word that is still in use is ‘town’.
Now you’ve got the facts, it’s time to impress your friends at the next pub quiz!