Fun Facts about English
See also: 10 Fun Facts about English
Do you love English?
A lot of people do. According to some websites, about 980 million
people worldwide speak English as a first or second language!
language is popular all over the world.
It is widely spoken in many
countries including Canada, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, New Zealand,
United Kingdom, and the United States of America
Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses
The English language has an
interesting history. It has changed over time, and it continues to
change every day. There are new words added every year, and definitions
constantly change. The English language is also full of words with
This is Part 2 of this series with 8 new facts about the English
language. You can read Part 1 of this series here: 10
Fun Facts About English.
English borrows words from
many other languages.
Wow! English has a lot of words! It may be true, but many words that
you think are English
are actually borrowed from other languages. I
are among some of
the oldest English words, but many other words originate from other
languages around the world. In fact, there are probably some English
words that came
from your native language
Here are some of our favorites:
a type of formal dance
Let's dance the waltz.
a form of entertainment where people sing popular songs
following words on a screen
They are having fun at the karaoke bar.
candy made from ground cacao seeds
origin: Nahuatl (a Native American language)
You should not eat too much chocolate.
a possessive pronoun
origin: Old Norse "peir"
is on Main Street.
the basic monetary unit of the United States of America, Canada,
Australia, and other countries
origin: Czech through Dutch
He won hundreds of dollars.
- very: in
degree (used for emphasis)
origin: Old French "verai", meaning "true"
She is very happy!
no quantity or number
Three minus three equals zero.
origin: Old French "werre"
No body wins in a war.
a mammal with black and white fur
origin: the extinct language of the Algonquian people (a North American native people)
Skunks produce a strong unpleasant smell to defend themselves when attacked.
Some "silent letters" were
added on purpose.
Many English words with silent letters (letters that you do not
pronounce) used to be spelled
phonetically (spelled the way it is pronounced
For example, debt
used to be spelled det
Around the 16th century AD, English scholars added silent letters
some words to link them to their Greek and Latin origins. Some of these
origins were later found to be the incorrect origins.
to link it to the Latin word for debitum
now spelled scissors
to link it to the Latin word scindere
(= to split up or divide).
to link it to the Greek word akhos
(= pain, grief, or distress).
The word "set" has 430
The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was published in
1989. In that dictionary, the word set
has 430 definitions! It currently holds the record for the
the only word in English with hundreds of definitions. Here are the
runners-up in the 1989 Oxford English Dictionary:
- run (396)
- go (368)
- take (343)
- stand (334)
- get (289)
- turn (288)
- put (268)
But language is always changing!
The editor of the Oxford English Dictionary says that the word run now has at least 645 meanings
However, the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary won't be
published until 2037, so set
still holds the official record for the word with the most definitions
Bald Eagles are not
in English have many definitions. The word bald is an adjective
that means "lacking hair." A bald person does not have hair on their
But an American Bald Eagle (the bird used as a symbol of the US) is not actually bald. The name
Bald Eagle comes from the old English word balde, which means white. The name Bald
to the eagle's white feathers.
"Hello" was not a greeting
until the telephone arrived.
What do most English speakers say when they answer the phone?
What do English speakers say when they are introduced to someone new?
But the word hello
did not actually become popular as a greeting until the telephone
arrived. It was originally used as a way to get someone's attention.
are you doing?"
"Hello! Are you listening to me?"
Thomas Edison, an inventor, wanted people to say "hello" when answering
Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, wanted
people to say "ahoy" when answering the phone.
Thomas Edison won. The
books included a "how-to" section on the first few pages, and hello was used as
the official greeting for the telephone.
"Goodbye" is a contraction
of "God be with ye."
The word goodbye (good
bye, good-by, good-bye)
is an English word commonly used
as a acknowledgment when leaving. It is also the common word
when ending a phone conversation.
The word goodbye
is actually a contraction
be with ye
(ye = you), from the later 14th century. It was influenced
into use by phrases such as good
. Intermediate forms of this word are God be wy you, God b'uy, God
The 26 letters in the
English alphabet make up over 40 individual sounds.
There are 26 letters in the modern English alphabet, but those letters
make over 40 distinct sounds. Many letters have more than one
- The letter C: cool (kewl), city (sity)
- The letter D: dog (dawg), jumped (jumpt)
- The letter T: sit (sit), watch (wach)
For a complete list of lessons for English sounds and pronunciations,
visit this page: English
Word Pronunciation: Improve that Accent!
The history of the English
language can be traced back to the 5th century AD.
The English language has a lot of history. Historians have traced the
history of English back to 5th century AD. English is actually a West
Germanic language. The language originated from dialects
brought to Britain in the mid 5th to 7th centuries AD by Germanic
invaders and settlers.
Old English changed into Middle English and then into Modern English.
There have been many additions of words and changes in pronunciations
There have also been changes in vowel
sounds and many grammatical
changes over the years. Definitions have also been added and changed.
Language is always growing and changing.
See also: 10 Fun Facts about English