‘How Many Words Do I Need To Know?’

Ever hear the expression, ‘quality over quantity‘?

Quality over quantity means that you prefer something of value or importance rather than just the number. For example, would you rather have 12 horribly made chocolate bars or one really delicious chocolate bar? Probably the really good, high-quality chocolate bar. Well, it’s the same thing with the English language!


Everybody wants to learn as many words as they can when they start learning English. And I get a lot of questions from students asking, ‘how many words do I need to know before I’m fluent?’ Well… there is no set number you need to reach. And I know how hard it is for some of you to hear that – I was one of them.

But, instead of focusing on the number of words you need to know, focus on the quality of the words you’re learning. For example, the word ‘hello/hi’ is going to come up much more in conversation than the word ‘starfish’. You’re probably almost never going to use ‘starfish’ in an English sentence. But, you can count on using the word ‘hello’ every day! So, you see how ‘hello’ is a quality word to learn? If you’d like to see more quality words to learn, click here. The words listed aren’t very complex. In fact, they are words you probably already know!


English native speakers mostly use those basic hundred words, just like you! So in order to get by in an English speaking country, you just need to know the basic words. If you’d like to be fluent in English, don’t waste all your time trying to memorize obscure words that some English speakers don’t even know! Instead, focus on learning words through content or phrases/sayings. That is probably the best way to increase your vocabulary. You are more likely to be fluent and have great conversations if you know some slang words, idioms, cliches, metaphors, and phrasal verbs. Those are quality words to learn. You will probably not be very fluent if you know vocabulary for marine life because, once again, those aren’t quality words.

So don’t try to be a perfectionist in the English language. Learn some quality words and learn quality phrases that will help you to get through almost any English conversation. Remember, quality over quantity!


8 thoughts on “‘How Many Words Do I Need To Know?’

  1. I m very anxious to learn n be fluent in English language. I m working on it very hard but due to lack of fluent English speakers around me so that It is difficult to cheak my progress . I naver leave any chance to read any post or article related to English. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is not so much a discussion around quantity vs quality of words as it is really a question of thought processes. A refined well mannered expression represents a qualitatively more impacting exchange than one cluttered with all kinds of slangs and silly but frequently used words and expressions. Did I make it through?


    1. I agree. But in the sense of students learning, I think it’s much better to learn quality phrases that are actually used – such as ‘How are you?’ – than a random vocabulary word that doesn’t have a lot of use


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