High Frequency Word Lists by Michael West

High Frequency Word Lists 1 and 2 contain 1000 words in each,also referred as General Service List of English words (West, 1953). Many western researchers share a common consensus that the high frequency 2,000 words account for 85% and more of the written words in any text.

Although these lists make up for 76% of academic, 75% non fiction and 90% of fiction texts but majority of the words in the lists are grammatical words.For example, in a given text grammar word the appeared 7% on a page and others grammatical words have more or less higher occurrences in written and spoken text.

However,It’s the 20% content words in 'the General Service List' that deliver the meaning of the content e.g. words like yield, wreck, worthwhile, cousin, etc.

High Frequency List includes ESL most frequent word list is an invaluable tool for newbies or beginner English learners. This list has the most common words which occur very frequently in every day English. English learners who think they can manage to read or speak in English fine can skip this list and jump to other Vocabulary Word Lists like AWL, word list to learn academic vocabulary.

But, before you do so, perhaps it’s a good idea to scan these word Lists and check how well you know your words.


1) Listening: What does it sound like?

Content or Con'tent?

2) Speaking: How is it pronounced?

3) Reading: What does the word look like?

4)Writing: How is the word written and spelled?

Site, Sight

5) Speaking and Writing:

Grammatical Use: What is its pattern noun, verb, gerund, adverb, auxiliary verb( do, have, had, be, having, should would and more)

How to use it correctly?

6)Speaking, Writing, Listening, Reading:

Collocations: What other words go with this word ?

calm down, climb down, dead serious

Context , Register or Appropriateness:

Where is this word used most- formal, informal, societal.

Slender, Skinny, thin

Meaning: What does the word mean?How many meaning it has or what it makes us think of?

Bear, Bear

What are the other words we can use for this word ( synonyms) if any?

Click here for find High Frequency word Lists 1

Click here for find High Frequency word Lists 2


GSL word list was created in 1953, all hand written, but it is still considered to be the most valuable list for those words that occur very frequently. Although, It would be much easier to formulate a new word list with latest data and with use of computers but, no new research has been directed towards this end.

There are other Lists namely: Dolch Site Word List, Fry Word List, but researchers and linguists put emphasis on General Service List by Michael West for learners of English as a second language.

English as a Second Language Acquisition is undertaken by learners of different needs High Frequency Word Lists by Michael West is most suitable for these learners.

Although these words come across simple but their diverse usage in different forms can cause difficulty to many. You must master them in depth before you move on to broaden your vocabulary with Academic Word Lists".

Random Examples of word usages in GSL -1 & 2 (West, 1953)

Able.........................Ability, abler ,ablest ,ably, Abilities, Unable, Inability

Account.................... Accounted, accounting, accounts, accountant, accountants accountancy

Accountable, Accountability

Check your knowledge about High Frequency words through points mentioned under KNOW YOUR WORDS WELL CHECK.

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Oxford English Dictionary publishes new word updates and revised word meanings, on March, June,September and December every year. For instance, in March 2012, it added:
bit bucket n. An An imaginary trash location, example, "it fell into the bit bucket" means the data was lost.

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