As an ESL, I usually wonder: “how many words I need to know to speak English well?”. I read somewhere that you don’t need more than 2,000 words to carry out 99% of daily conversations. 2,000 words don’t seem to be a lot and if I can learn 10 words a day, I can be conversational in any language in just 200 days (less than a year).
So, what if I want to enjoy the novels, books in English, how many words I need to know.
I doubt the number would be a lot more than 2,000 words.
So I made a tool to read all the text in a book (you can select more than one book in .pdf or .txt format) and it will export all the words in that book into a table.
Here are some results:
As you can see at the top, there are 6461 different words in this book.
for Wuthering Heights, you need to know 9,456 words.
That’s a lot of words.
The numbers aren’t 100% correct. There are some gibberish such as website address, two letter (like country codes) may get in the list. However, you can roughly estimate that there are 95% of the numbers are real words.
I find that this is a good way to quickly find out new words that I don’t know. I can click on the words to get the definition (if available) on the right.
You can download the program here for free. If you have any suggestion, please let me know.