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How many people in the world speak English?

Frequently Asked Questions about English

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How many people in the world speak English?

Postby EC » Sun Sep 19, 2004 8:18 am

How many people in the world speak English?

About one-and-a-half billion (1,500,000,000) people spoke English at the start of the 21st century. That was one quarter (¼) of all people on earth. More than 400 million (400,000,000) speak English as their first language. The rest speak English as a second or third language for their professional and personal lives. But English is not the world's top first language, as you can see from the following list:

1st Mandarin Chinese 726,000,000
2nd English 427,000,000
3rd Spanish 266,000,000
4th Hindi 182,000,000
5th Arabic 181,000,000
6th Portuguese 165,000,000
7th Bengali 162,000,000
8th Russian 158,000,000
9th Japanese 124,000,000
10th German 121,000,000

Source: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language
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