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Top English Words

Top English Words

Students brainstorm and write what they think are the top 25 most common words in English. An ESL writing warmer for students of all levels.

Level:  Any

Topic:  Warmer

Time:  15 minutes


  • Make one copy of the Handout for the teacher.
  • Optional: See Oxford Dictionaries for more information about the 100 most common words in English.



Tell your students the following facts about the most common English words.

  • The top 100 most common words account for about half of all written material.

  • The top 25 most common words account for about a third of all written material.


Ask students to get out a sheet of paper.


The students’ task is to write as many words on their sheet of paper that they think might be in the top 25 most common words in English. Give a 3-minute time limit.


After the 3 minutes, ask students to guess which word is at the top of the list, #1. Take guesses until someone gives the correct answer (the answer is the).


Then, have students check their answers while you read off the first 25 words on the Handout.


Ask students to count the number of words they got correct. The student with the most correct words is the winner.

Printable Worksheets


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I'm Becki, the Co-Founder and the one who put up all these great speaking activities. We’re here to provide enjoyable lessons for teachers like you! Learn more