How Large Is Your Vocabulary?

Having a large vocabulary can make you a better speaker, listener, writer and reader. It is the key to becoming more knowledgeable and can help you to come across as smarter.

There are thought to be over 170,000 words in the English language. No one person knows all of these words. But just how many words should you know? And how do you know how large or small your vocabulary is?

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How many words should you know?

We are constantly learning new words. However, during adulthood many of us stop learning new vocabulary as frequently. Below is a rough guide to the average amount of words a person knows at each age:


  • 5 years: 6,000 words


  • 10 years: 12,000 words
  • 15 years: 20,000 words
  • 20 years: 23,000 words
  • 40 years: 30,000 words
  • 60 years: 31,000 words



Professional writers and politicians are often able to grow a vocabulary as large as 80,000 words. However, having a large vocabulary is typically more vital in these fields. 

There are a few telltale signs that you may need to grow your vocabulary such as struggling to express yourself, not being able to read texts aimed at your age or constantly repeating the same words. There are also many vocabulary tests you can take online to give you an idea of how articulate you are. 

What’s the best way to expand one’s vocabulary?

There are a few simple ways in which you can actively pick up more words. These include…


Reading books is the best way to expand your vocabulary. This includes reading fiction and non-fiction. Audiobooks can help you pick up words if you don’t like physically reading books, however seeing the text can help you to better understand how to read and spell these words. 

Word puzzles

Word puzzles are often a test of one’s vocabulary. The crossword is the most popular word puzzle – these puzzles require you to identify words based on clues. Online games like Wordle are also great for testing your knowledge of words, as are board games like Scrabble. 


Watching TV shows and movies can also improve your vocabulary. Documentaries and movies/TV shows that delve into niche subjects are often the best options for helping you learn new words. It’s worth turning on captions so that you can also see how these words are spelt. 


You can also pick up a lot of new words by listening to songs. To truly expand your vocabulary, listen to songs in a variety of genres. Listening with the lyrics up in front of you can give you a better idea of how certain words are spelt so that you can use them in your writing.


Reading articles and essays is another great way to expand your vocabulary. Deep-diving into specialist subjects can help you to learn all kinds of unusual terms that could be important if you want to expand your interest in that area. The internet is the best place to explore these articles and essays – however you can also read physical magazines, newspapers and journals. 

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