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1000 words in vocabulary recognition

I just reached 1000 words in vocabulary and was expecting some kind of "fanfare", maybe nice owl picture or whatever... It would be a nice touch, think about it.

June 24, 2013



Yes, learning 1,000 words on Duolingo is quite an accomplishment! How we recognize these milestones is something we need to consider. Thanks for the feedback :)


I have read somewhere that 600 words is enought to be able to orient yourself in a country and 3000 words suppose to be what average native speaker uses on daily basis. But it was just some educated opinion, I do not have any proof that it is the case and I do not remember the source.


Interesting! See also my comment to mtc6474 below ....

I wonder how your source would count the words.


Anyone know how many words it takes to have a normal day to day conversation? This may differ in different languages - I don't know. I also have round a 1000 words, but that is not sufficient to converse in an average chat. Anyone know how many? How many to read a magazine? etc


It would matter on the people. My conversations always require more than 1000 words. I'll assume very basic small talk would only take up 600 maybe. Small talk like the weather, general feelings, if something looks pretty or tastes good.


A book written in 1990 by I.S.P. Nation entitled "Teaching and Learning Vocabulary" states that for English 5,000 of the most frequent words account for 95% of written text. 1,000 of the most frequent words will cover most conversations.

I think it is fair to assume( with no data to back up my opinion) that the numbers are approximately the same for other languages. The important thing is to get the most frequent words into your vocabulary.

For Spanish I suggest "A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish: Core Vocabulary for Learners" by Mark Davies.


Thanks. Interesting that 1000 'of the most common words' will cover most conversations! I have just over that, but experience has shown me that it is not enough ... though I can probably follow a lot of what is being said.

Maybe Duolingo does not necessarily cover the 'most common words' - I believe others have commented on that already.

I wonder too whether there is a difference in the way Duolingo counts words compared to other sources (eg the one you mention).

Duolingo counts each conjugation of a verb as a word, thus: hablar; (to speak) has: hablo, hablas, habla, hablamos, hablan, which just to give the present tense conjugations - would count as 6 words (or 7 if you are form Spain and include hablais). That is not even looking at the other tenses etc. I have a little booklet called '1001 Most Useful Spanish Words' by Seymore Resnick ($2 on Amazon) and that counts Hablar (and all its tenses) as only one word.

I wonder if anyone can comment on that.


DL counts the infinitive as one word, not all the conjugations as individual words. It counts the singular form of nouns, but not all the plurals as different words. The same with adjectives.


Oh ... OK! - are you sure? I did not know that. It seems from the vocabulary section that each tense is counted as a word and they each needs to be practiced to keep them gold. Where do you get that information? Be interesting to see - and sort of makes sense ....


It has been mentioned on the discussions, but I don't know where. However you can count them for yourself. Click on vocabulary. On the left hand side it will say practice by skill, then pick one of the skills and click on one of them.You can see the total words for that skill, and then just count them. For Example under QUESTIONS, my vocabulary says that there are 7 words, but if I count all the forms, there is 9 words. DL only counts the main word in the total words.


I think Duolingo does a great job of teaching sentence structure, conjugations etc. A good base to learn words from. I am using Memrise.com in conjunction to learn pure vocab. As they have 5,000 words sorted by frequency lists, etc. And lists for specialized purposes, for example Christmastime, or technology vocabulary etc. So far this combination is helping me to learn both pieces.


Also worth considering that you need to know how to use all of those 1000 words in all of the lanuage's tenses, which at the time you get to 1000 words in DL you probably have only learned a few of them.


tres bien Jaspet!


Great work man :) I only have 270, for now ;)


Well done! and nice idea.


Here's some interesting articles I found on vocabulary: http://testyourvocab.com/blog/

As an adult english speaker, my english vocabulary would be around 25,000. I have a long way to go in French to match that! Well, perhaps other languages have significantly different sized average vocabularies.

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