30 Most Common Languages Spoken in the World

How many languages do you know? If the answer is one, two, or even three, you’ve got some work ahead of you: there are over 6,500 languages spoken all over the world. Keep reading to see the 30 most common languages spoken, as well as how many native speakers each language has.

common languages spoken in the worldcommon languages spoken in the world

Most Common Languages in the World: 1-10

If you’re interested in learning a second language, the top 10 spoken languages in the world would be a good start. Many modern industries prefer their employees to be fluent in at least two of these languages.

The top 10 spoken languages in the world are:

Language

Total Speakers

Native Speakers

1. English

1.26 billion

369.7 million

2. Mandarin Chinese

1.12 billion

921.5 million

3. Hindi

637.3 million 

342 million

4. Spanish

537.9 million

463 million

5. French

276.6 million

77.3 million

6. Modern Standard Arabic

280 million

None (second language only)

7. Bengali

265.3 million

228.5 million

8. Russian

258 million

153.6 million

9. Portuguese

252.2 million

227.9 million

10. Indonesian/Malay

199 million

43.6 million

It’s true that English has more total speakers than Mandarin Chinese. However, when you compare the number of native speakers from each language, you’ll see that there are more than half a million more native Mandarin Chinese speakers than native English speakers. Many more people around the world learn English as a second language.

Another interesting fact about these languages is that there are no listed native speakers of Modern Standard Arabic. While there are millions of speakers of different Arabic dialects around the world, Modern Standard Arabic is primarily taught in schools as a second language.

Most Common Languages in the World: 11-20

An avid news reader likely wouldn’t be surprised about the list of top 10 languages spoken around the world. But can you name the next 10 most common languages? Check out this list to round out your knowledge:

Language

Total Speakers

Native Speakers

11. Urdu

171 million

69 speakers

12. German

131.6 million

75.5 million

13. Japanese

126.4 million

126.2 million

14. Swahili

99 million

16.2 million

15. Marathi

95.3 million

83.1 million

16. Javanese

94 million

84 million

17. Telegu

93 million

82.4 million

18. Turkish

85.2 million

79.5 million

19. Yue Chinese

85 million

84.5 million

20. Tamil

83.8 million

77.8 million

These languages are more localized than the top 10 languages. Compare the number of total speakers versus native speakers. You’ll find that many of these languages are primarily composed of native speakers with a small population of second or third-language speakers.

common languages spoken in the worldcommon languages spoken in the world

For example, there are roughly 126,400,000 Japanese speakers in the world. Of that group, there are only 200,000 non-native speakers. Languages like Yue Chinese and Turkish are similarly represented by large groups of native speakers in China and Turkey.

Most Common Languages in the World: 21-30

The next group of common languages don’t have as many speakers as the top 20 – when added together, they still don’t match up to the number of English or Mandarin Chinese speakers. However, they still represent a significant number of people from several continents around the world. They include:

Language

Total Speakers

Native Speakers

21. Lahnda (Western Punjabi)

83 million

62 million

22. Wu Chinese

81.8 million

80 million

23. Korean

79.4 million

77.2 million

24. Vietnamese

77 million

76 million

25. Hausa

72.7 million

47.7 million

26. Egyptian Arabic

67.8 million

64 million

27. Italian

67.7 million

64.6 million

28. Thai

60.7 million

20.7 million

29. Gujarati

60.7 million

56.5 million

30. Kannada

56. 5 million

43.6 million

Lahnda, Wu Chinese, and Egyptian Arabic are different dialects of languages mentioned above. They are larger groups of many regional dialects, and as you can see, they consist mainly of native speakers. Other languages, such as Hausa and Thai, are popular second languages to learn.

The Value of a Second Language

If you’re on your way to becoming a polyglot, learning about the 30 most common languages around the world is a great start. These languages facilitate communication and understanding, and the more people understand from each other, the better. Check out a guide about how to say “hello” in different languages, or read up on 20 ways to say “thank you” around the world.

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