The 5000 Most Common Words in Spanish

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Important: This is just a word list. It contains NO TRANSLATIONS at all. Why? Because translation is context-specific, and this is just a list with no context at all. It's just supposed to be used as a "checklist" to identify gaps in your vocabulary, not as a standalone study resource. As I clearly mention in the presentation video, I'm working on a course that slowly introduces these words in context. All the currently available lessons are in this playlist, which is available to members of the Spanish Input YouTube channel:

This word list was created from a 2020 database of Spanish-language movies and TV shows from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and more. It is a good reflection of words that are widely known across the Spanish-speaking world.

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Explanation of technical terms in the Excel file:

This file contains raw statistics data that was explained in the presentation video of this list.

"Contextual diversity" refers to the proportion of different contexts in which the word appears. If a word is used in ALL contexts, then its CD is 100%. If it's only used in half of contexts, then its CD is 50%. As was explained in the video, experiments have shown that words with higher CD value are more widely understood by native speakers, and thus should be the top priority for learners.

"Frequency per million" refers to the raw number of times a word appears per million words in the database. This is the "frequency" traditionally used as the main ordering criteria in other word lists. In the Spanish Input list this value is just used to break the tie between words with the same CD value. (Again, please watch the video for a full explanation of why I ordered the list this way)

"Word form" refers to the actual form of a word. For example, the verb "ser" can have the word forms "soy", "eres", "fuimos", etc. Traditional books tend to give vocabulary lists of dictionary forms, also known as "lemmas" instead of word forms. For example, they will just give you "ser" in the vocabulary list and it's the learner's job to figure out which of the several dozen forms they actually need to learn. This is highly inefficient, because some forms of a lemma are used a lot, and some others are never used. This is the reason why the Spanish Input list has different entries for each word form. Thus, "soy" "eres", "fuimos" are treated as different items in the list.

"Coverage" refers to the cumulative coverage you would have if you knew every single word up to this line. For example, if you knew the first 100 words inside-out, you would have 54% coverage. In other words, you would understand around half the words you hear in a typical conversation. Of course, understanding half the words is nowhere near enough to have a conversation with a native speaker, but at this point you know something. It's a big leap from knowing nothing. If you knew the first 1,000 words, you would have 79% coverage. You would understand 79% of words you hear in a typical conversation. This is still not enough for full comprehension, but at this point you start to be able to fill some gaps with context, tone of voice, body language and visual cues.

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A PDF list of the 5,000 most common words in Spanish.

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The 5000 Most Common Words in Spanish

72 ratings
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