13 interesting facts about English

Author: Kim Jacobs | Last modified on: March 21st, 2024

English Language

English is one of the most spoken languages in the world. However despite its wide popularity people know very little about the language. Here some facts for English that you will find to be very interesting.

  1. The letter ‘E’ is the most used in the English language. Studies show that every 8th letter is an ‘E’. Also more English words commence with the letter ‘S’ than any other. Example: Man and van services (three ‘Es’ in 17 letters and a word that starts with ‘S’ in a combination of four words). This demonstrates the prevalence of ‘E’ as a common letter and ‘S’ as a starter, showcasing the quirky characteristics of the English language.
  2. Did you know that the most commonly used noun in the entire English language is ‘time’? This reflects how central the concept of time is to human experience and communication.
  3. English is arguably the fastest developing language in the world. A new word is added to the tongue on an estimate of two hours. Also a total of 4.000 new words are added to the English dictionary annually. Which makes English a continually evolving and expanding language, reflecting changes in technology, culture, and society.
  4. The shortest complete phrase in English is ‘I am’. It is often used as a form of positive answer. Example: Are you hungry? I am. Interestingly, the shortest grammatically correct sentence in English is “Go.” This showcases the language’s ability to convey a command in a minimalistic fashion.
  5. There are numerous tongue twisters in the English language. But all linguistic experts agree that the hardest to pronounce is “Sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick”. It is this due to the close sounds that all the words have. These tongue twisters not only challenge pronunciation but also highlight the complex soundscape of English.
  6. There is a total of nine ways to pronounce ‘ough’ in English and the following sentence contains all of them: A rough-coated, dough-face, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed. This variability in pronunciation points to the rich tapestry of the English spoken language and its roots in various languages.
  7. The sound ‘ee’ can be spelled in seven different ways. Such spelling variations contribute to the challenge of learning English as a first or second language but also add to its richness.
  8. Phrases that contain all the letters from the English alphabet are known as pangrams. There are two types of pangrams, such that used more than 26 letters. Example: How quickly daft jumping zebras vex. And perfect pangrams which are formed by using only the 26 letters of the alphabet. The well-known “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is a classic example, often used to test typewriters and keyboards.
  9. There are only two English words in the current standard use that end in “-gry”. These are ‘angry’ and ‘hungry’. This peculiar fact often features in puzzles and trivia about the English language.
  10. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ is a synonym for ‘fantastic’ and is a word which was initially invented for the 1964 movie “Marry Popping” which starred Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. It was later added to the English dictionary and since then many people wrongly believe that it is the longest word in English. However, the truth is that ‘Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’ a word that described as lung sickness is the longest word in English. William Shakespeare is credited with coining many existing words and phrases that are still in use today, demonstrating the impact of literature on the English language.
  11. ‘I” isn’t only the shortest word in English but also one of the oldest along with words such as ‘we’, ‘two’ and ‘three’. ‘I’ is also the most commonly used word during discussions. Example: I was moving and I decided to hire man and van services, so that I can spare myself from the heavy lifting (‘I’ is used three times in a single sentence). In discussions, ‘you’ often follows ‘I’, indicating a focus on interpersonal relationships in communication.
  12. English also contains words known as crutch words, like ‘actually’ and ‘basically’, which don’t add significant meaning to a sentence but are used by speakers to give themselves more time to think or to emphasize a point. These crutch words play a subtle but important role in the rhythm and flow of English conversation among native speakers.
  13. Due to the non-stop development of the language, English has numerous “ghost words” that feature in the dictionary but mean nothing. These words have came into existence due to printing errors that misspell a particular word and therefore trick people into assuming that it is a real word. Examples: Dord, phantomnation, kime, abacot, feamyng, hsigo and etc. Such errors offer a fascinating glimpse into the history of English and the complexities of its development over time.

The Oxford English Dictionary estimates the total number of words in the English language to be over 600,000, a number that includes words from many different origins and periods of history. This vast vocabulary allows for an incredible nuance and precision in ways of expression, contributing to English’s rank as the most spoken language worldwide, either as a native, second, or foreign language.

These interesting facts about the English language reveal its complexities, idiosyncrasies, and the dynamic nature of its evolution. From the shortest complete sentence ‘I am’ to the only word in the English language that’s spelled with all the vowels in order, ‘facetious’, English continues to amaze linguists, scholars, and speakers across the whole world.

As it borrows from and influences other languages, English remains a living, breathing entity, growing and changing with each generation.

About the Author:

Kim Jacobs is a removals coordinator with over 11 years of experience as part of the Get man and van team and other firms in the home and office relocation industry in London. Before joining our company, Kim has worked in various logistical and transportation companies and institutions such as Transport for London, The Removals Ombudsman, and has coordinated moving projects with some of the biggest suppliers of various goods such as IKEA, HomeBase, Amazon, Sainsbury's and others. While working as a chief removals coordinator, Kim also enjoys sharing her expertise with others through writing in our blog.

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