Go to New Version of This Page
This old version has not been updated since 2016,
but we're leaving it in case you prefer it.
Show What's New
Please update your links from the new version.
Books (1000+)    Teacher Information    Your Review Words    Other   
verbalworkout.com . . . enhancing vocabulary while reading
What is a Word?
Most people have an expressive vocabulary of between 20,000 and 40,000 words. Including their receptive vocabulary, they may be familiar with more like 50,000 to 100,000 words.

When we say "word", we are counting run and running as two forms of the same word. You might think of it as counting headwords in the dictionary.

We also count words as different when they have the same spelling, but different meanings. For example bark (the sound of a dog) is a different word than bark (the skin of a tree).

Note that nation, national, and nationalize are traditionally counted as three different words. Similarly, unsatisfactory is traditionally counted as a separate word than satisfactory.

Well-known proper nouns and acronyms are also typically counted as words. For example, New York City, Shakespeare, and the FBI all impart generally shared verbal concepts.

Shakespeare used about 30,000 different word forms in his published works. The 30,000 word forms belong to about 20,000 headwords.

Also see:
Expressive v. Receptive Vocabulary
Average Vocabulary Size
Return to "About Vocabulary"
Give us feedback