The 1000 Most Common Words in Spanish - Read This First

 

Learning a language is not an effortless task. However, it's not nearly as hard as we all make it out to be. It requires grit, more than intellect. 

 

Since you're looking for the 1.000 most frequently used Spanish words, you already know that learning the most common words in a language is an excellent place to start. 

 

Learning the 1,000 most common words in Spanish is a reasonable goal to get yourself started towards learning Spanish fluently. 

 

Focus your energies on these top 1000 words first. They are the most frequently used words and will get you to understand around 85% of all spoken Spanish, and 80% of all written Spanish.

 

 

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule. 

 

Remember the Pareto Principle or 80/20 Rule. 80% of all your results, come just from the 20% what you have studied. 

 

It is better to learn the verbs for "I want" or "I have" than words such as "utensil" or "nectarine". 

 

Studies show that we tend to use the same words or phrases over and over again, even if there are more fitting words or phrases than them. There are so many synonyms for the word "good", yet you'll hear "good" 90% of all time. So it would be best if you focused on the words that will give you the most results, with the minimum amount time invested. 

 

oTherefore, remember the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 Rule. 80% of all your results, come just from the 20% what you have studied. 

 

It is better to learn the verbs for "I want" or "I have" than words such as "utensil" or "nectarine". 

 

Studies show that we tend to use the same words or phrases over and over again, even if there are more fitting words or phrases than them. There are so many synonyms for the word "good", yet you'll hear "good" 90% of all time. It would be in your best interest if you focused on vocabulary that will give you the best return on time invested.

 

 

Why are there different lists of the 1000 most common Spanish words?

 

You probably noticed that there are a lot of different lists on the top 1000 Spanish words. How can there be differences in the most common words in a language? And what separates a bad list from a good list? There are two possible answers here.

 

The source texts used are different in each case. 

 

Written language and spoken language are not the same. You use,and encounter different words while writing and reading. The same goes for speaking and listening. This is very interesting indeed, and something to be aware of before you start studying Spanish vocabulary from a list. If your source text is not a mix of spoken and written language, and you're learning Spanish for everyday fluency, I suggest looking for a list based on spoken and written Spanish.

 

That is why we base our frequency lists mainly on subtitles. According to research, subtitles are the most reliable way to create a good, all-round list that covers spoken and written language. 


The list has not been cleaned, or incorrectly cleaned. 

 

I will take the Wikipedia lits as an example here. It is a Spanish frequency list, based on the Wikipedia corpus. It is a collection of all Wikipedia text, run through a (very basic) text analyser. There is a wide variety of text analysers, with varying levels of pricing, features and competency. The Wikipedia counts all the single "words", and lists them by how often they occur...

 

BUT!

 

The Wikipedia frequency list is a raw data list. The entries have not been cleaned up. The list contains names and other proper nouns, verb conjugations, random plurals, and superlatives. Ew! 

 

In linguistic terms: the words have not been lemmatized. Lemmatization refers to bringing the word back to its root form. You will see a lot of conjugated words in the list, instead of just the root word. The root is also called the lemma, or the dictionary form. 

 

If you're looking for a frequency list to learn Spanish, you'd be better off with a more reliable and correctly lemmatized frequency list. If you're looking for verb conjugations, then use the Pareto Principle here too.

 

Quickstudy has a very nice grammar cheatsheet. Learn the most common grammar rules first. Then, regular verb conjugations, and the most common irregular verb conjugations. After, focus on learning more vocabulary.

 

 

Why learning from a Spanish vocabulary list is not optimal.

 

Learning from a word list is not considered "natural language acquisition". 

 

When you learned your first language, you learned almost all from context. (Ok, and full immersion, and instant feedback from a private tutors: your parents, teachers, and peers.)

 

But even now when you're learning new words in your native language, 

 

If your frequency list doesn't show you word usage in context, you might want to look for one with accompanying sample sentences. You naturally learn languages in chunks, not by individual terms from a word list. This way, you'll learn faster, as it'll mimic natural language learning. 

 

As a bonus, you get Spanish reading practice, and you'll learn additional vocabulary from context.

 

For this reason, all our entries come with a Spanish to English sample sentence. 

 

 

How long will it take you to learn the top 1000 Spanish words?

 With the use of very advanced mathematic principles, I will now calculate for you how long it will take you to understand 85% of all daily Spanish:

 

  • You can achieve above-mentioned level of understanding in 33 days, if you learn just 30 words per day. 

 

  • If you set your goal to learn at least 20 new words per day, you will reach your goal in 50 days. 

 

  • If you're learning just 10 words a day, you will reach your goal in 100 days. 

 

 

What are the best ways to study vocabulary?

Some more pointers to help you learn faster.

 

  1. Spaced repetition. Revisit vocabulary items from time to time. Flashcards work on this principle. Spanish audio courses like Michel Thomas and Pimsleur do as well. In fact, Paul Pimsleur did a lot of research into spaced repetition and memory hacking. He then came up with his Pimsleur language courses.

  2. Set goals. Failing to plan, is planning to fail. Set our goals. See the sample calculations above on how long it will take you to learn the 1000 most used Spanish words.

  3. Stick to it. Most language learning fails, because students give up. Be the 1.5% of people who actually achieve their goals. 

 

Conclusion: how to learn the top 1000 Spanish words fast

 

Focus on the first 1000 common Spanish words. Use a reliable frequency list, based on both spoken and written language. Make sure the top 1000 words come with at least a Spanish sample sentence, so you can see words used in context. This helps you by learning in chunks. Set your daily goals, and stick to them. No matter what. Remember, a day is long but a year is short. You'll be speaking Spanish before you know it. 


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