The 150 Most Commonly Used Words

the     of     and     a     to     in     is     you     that     it

These ten words make up an enormous proportion of all the words we ever read in print, probably about 25%, so it is well worth while making sure that you master them when you are both reading and writing. They can be quite difficult for some people just because they are so small and don’t mean much on their own, so don’t be put off by them. Other, more interesting-looking words will probably be easier.

The other 140 words on this list, along with those ten, make up about 85%. You need to learn them, check them and re-learn them over and over again (but only a few at a time and not for too long at a time). It sounds boring and it can be quite boring, but the rewards for being sure for the rest of your life of recognising them at once when reading and being able to produce them accurately and easily while writing are well worth a little tedium now. If you can think up a game to play with them, or some silly mnemonics, they needn’t be quite so boring. You may find them difficult because you have already made mistakes with them before (it is easier to learn words from “scratch”, ones that you have never yet tried to learn), but don’t get put off by that either.

he     for     was     on     are     as     with     his     they     at 
be this from I have or by one had not
but what all were when we there can an your
which their said if do will each about how up
out them then she many some so these would into
has more her two like him see time could no
make than first been its who now people my made
over did down only way find use may other water
long little very after words called just where most know
get through back much before go good new write our
used me man too any day same right look
think also around another came come work three word must
because does part even place well such here take why
things help put years different away again off went old number

Some of these words have very “irregular” spellings (just because they are so common), but some contain typical English spelling patterns which turn up again and again, so that when you have mastered them you have also mastered patterns which you can apply to many other words. They make up a sort of basic tool-kit for the reader and writer of English!