Updated: Dec 1, 2022
English is a beautiful, complicated, fun, and frustrating language all at the same time.
But it's precisely because of this that learning English is such a rewarding experience!
Every aspect of English has its own story, from difficult spelling to words that describe the intense feeling you get when you see a cute kitten.
Here are some fascinating English facts that will both surprise you and help you better understand the beautiful language you're learning!
English is spoken by 952 million people around the world
339 million people speak English as a first language, and 603 million speak it as a second language. It is the official language in 67 countries and 27 non-sovereign countries such as Hong Kong.
The longest word in the English language contains 45 letters
The forty-five letter word, ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’, refers to a lung disease caused by inhalation of fine silca dust.
The second longest word in the English language dictionary is ‘Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia’, that ironically means the fear of long words.
Longest English word without repeating letters
"Subdermatoglyphic" is the longest English word that can be written without repeating any letters. It has 17 letters in it, and it’s the medical name for the layer of skin beneath the fingertips.
Slightly easier to guess the meaning of is the word ‘uncopyrightable’, which has 15 letters without any being repeated, and refers to something that can’t be copyrighted or owned.
New arrivals to the dictionary
A new word is added to the dictionary every two hours. The newest and strangest include ‘nerdjacking’ (to hijack a conversation with detailed explanations), ‘undorse’ (to reverse a policy) and ‘Mx’ (a gender-neutral form of address instead of using Mr or Ms).
English uses the Latin alphabet.
The Latin alphabet originally comes from the Etruscan alphabet. It happens to be the most widely used alphabet in the world, which is a great help to many English learners!
English is the official language of the air.
This means that English is the official language of airplane travel.
Ever noticed that no matter where you’re flying in the world, your pilot and flight attendants always know English? This is why!
The most used adjective in the English language is ‘good’
The most common noun in the English Language is ‘time’, and the most mispronounced (and often misspelt) word in the English language is ‘Pronunciation’.
Two English words can combine into one.
A portmanteau is a word that blends the sounds of two English words to make a new word that combines their meanings.
For example, hangry means hungry and angry.
You can fit every letter of the alphabet into a single sentence.
A pangram is a sentence that contains every letter from the alphabet. A very famous English pangram is: “The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.”
Some English words look the same backward or forward.
A palindrome is a word or phrase that’s spelled the same whether you read left-to-right (like normal) or right-to-left. An example word is madam.
Some English words repeat to make a new word.
A tautonym in linguistics is a word that consists of the same word twice. You might also hear this referred to as reduplication. The common English word so-so is the perfect example of a tautonym. It means “just okay; fine.”