Want to know a fun fact about languages? There are over 7,000 languages in the world, but only 23 of them are spoken by the majority.
Have you ever wondered what the most spoken languages are? Knowing this information can benefit you in several ways, whether you’re trying to learn new things or level up in the business world.
When it comes to the most popular languages, it is easy to guess that English and Chinese make a list. But would you have guessed that Bengali is among the top 12 most spoken languages? Probably not.
Learning about languages is never boring. We’ve compiled a list of the top 12 most spoken languages and included every information you need.
Without wasting time any further, let’s dive in!
A Quick Review Of The Most Spoken Languages Of The World In 2023
Too lazy to go through the entire article? Not every one of our readers will read the article word by word, and we get it! So, here is a quick table with a list of the top 12 most spoken languages and their number of speakers.
|Sr. No.||Language||Number of speakers|
|1.||English||1,428,776,546 (1.4 billion)|
|2.||Mandarin Chinese||1,119,967,314 (1.1 billion)|
|3.||Hindi||653,852,900 (653 million)|
|4.||Spanish||548,882,737 (548 million)|
|5.||French||282,212,480 (282 million)|
|6.||Bengali||272,617,254 (272 million)|
|7.||Modern Arabic||272,201,639 (272 million)|
|8.||Portuguese||263,312,424 (263 million)|
|9.||Russian||257,355,739 (257 million)|
|10.||Urdu||234,012,486 (234 million)|
|11.||Indonesia||200,010,432 (200 million)|
|12.||German||134,674,095 (134 million)|
So, that’s it for our quick table. If you’re intrigued and interested to know more, read on.
Most Spoken Languages
We’re finally at the heart of our article. Continue reading to find out in detail about the most spoken languages.
1. English (1.4 billion)
|Language family||Germanic, a subfamily of Indo-European.|
|Name in the language||English|
With a whopping 1.4 billion native and non-native speakers, English tops the list of the most spoken languages. English is globally the most popular language today. It is spoken in almost every country and is known as the “universal language.”
English is widely used in international business, technology, tourism, and anything you can think of. It is the most common medium of conversation in international relations. English can be picked up quite easily, which is why an increasing number of people study it.
English is still regarded as the language that provides the most opportunities worldwide. It continues to dominate the world for several years due to the powerful influence of US culture.
2. Mandarin Chinese (1.1 billion)
|Name in the language||普通话 (Putonghua)|
Mandarin Chinese is the second most spoken language in the world, with 1.1 billion speakers. It is spoken largely in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Although the numbers are quite high, Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to become proficient in.
A fun fact about Mandarin Chinese is that it is one of the official languages of the United States. So, it is not surprising that so many people speak it.
The language has over 5,000 characters, making it one of the most complex. So, if you want to keep busy, start learning Chinese!
3. Hindi (653 million)
|Name in the language||हिंदी|
The third one on our list is Hindi, a language that is largely spoken in India and is one of its 22 official languages. India is the second most inhabited country in the world, so it is not surprising that Hindi has this many speakers. Among the 653 million people who speak the language, over 500 million are Indians.
If you know English, you probably know a few Hindi words. Ever heard the terms jungle, bungalow, karma, and yoga? They have all been borrowed from Hindi!
Sanskrit, the oldest language in the world, has highly influenced Hindi. The term “Hindi” is named after the Persian word “Hindi,” which literally means “The Land Of The Indus River.”
4. Spanish (548 million)
|Name in the language||español or castellano|
With 548 million native and non-native speakers, Spanish is spoken on four continents across 20 countries. In fact, some of these countries have Spanish listed as one of their official languages. For English speakers, Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn. So, it is not surprising that the numbers are so high.
It is believed that in the next three generations, about 10 percent of the world’s population will be able to communicate in Spanish. Isn’t that interesting? The language has already taken over the US, being the second most spoken in the country.
5. French (282 million)
|Name in the language||le français|
The influence of French colonialism led it to become the official language of 29 countries across various continents. French is considered the language of culture. Even though it comes fifth on our list of the most spoken languages, French has the third-most number of non-native speakers worldwide.
The French language has its roots spread everywhere. It is spoken across different parts of the world, from France to parts of Canada to a handful of African countries. You may have heard Paris is called “The City of Love.” Well, French, the official language of Paris, is considered the most romantic-sounding language!
6. Bengali (272 million)
|Name in the language||বাংলা (Bangla)|
Bengali is the official language of Bangladesh. However, it is also spoken in parts of India and Burma. A sizable number of immigrants in the US, UK, and middle east also speak the language.
Being listed as the sixth most spoken language in the world, Bengali often surprises people. This is mainly because the language is spoken over a small territory and lacks international popularity.
However, things make sense when you consider the population density of the region where it’s spoken. Want to know a fun fact? It is considered the second most beautiful language after French!
7. Modern Arabic (272 million)
|Name in the language||العَرَبِيَّة|
With 272 million speakers globally, Modern Arabic is the 7th most spoken language. It is also the only language on our list, which is written from right to left. Arabic originated in the Arabian peninsula and managed to spread its roots in the Middle East and North Africa.
Arabic is, as you would know, the official language of Islam. However, not all Muslims are native Arabic speakers. The language does hold importance in every Islam follower’s life, mainly because the Holy Quran was dictated to Prophet Muhammad in Arabic.
However, that is Classical Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic is an academic dialect based on Classical Arabic.
8. Portuguese (263 million)
|Name in the language||português|
Portuguese is another language that spread across Europe due to colonialism. It is the official language of nine countries, including Portugal, Brazil, Angola, etc. Most Portuguese speakers come from Brazil, which is not surprising given that it is the largest country among the nine.
Portuguese was brought to Africa, Asia, and the Americas during the 15th century by the colonizers. However, the countries kept developing cultures and transforming the language. Now, it is the most widely spoken language in the Southern hemisphere.
9. Russian (257 million)
|Language family||East Slavic|
|Name in the language||ру́сский язы́к|
Russian is ninth on our list, with 257 million speakers worldwide. Most of this population are Russian natives, which is not surprising given that Russia is the largest country. Today, Russian is the official language of four countries, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. Additionally, it is one of the six languages spoken in the UN.
Russian has the most native speakers in Europe. The language is known to have tricky grammar but has only about 200,000 words (way less than English). Many Russian words have more than one meaning, making learning the language complex. It is written in Cyrillic script and is one of the most difficult languages to grasp.
10. Urdu (234 million)
|Name in the language||اردو|
The last one on our list is Urdu. Considered to be the language of love, Urdu has various beautiful poetry and other literary works. The language has several beautiful-sounding words and teaches the importance of respecting others while conversing. In fact, it was believed that only a handful of people could handle the weight of the language.
Hindi and Urdu sound quite similar. If you know either one of the languages, you will easily understand the other. Urdu is mainly spoken in South Asia and is the official language of Pakistan and several Indian states (Telangana, Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, etc.).
11. Indonesian (200 Million)
|Name In The Language||Bahasa Indonesia|
Indonesia is the fourth biggest country in the World in terms of population and the third largest democracy. Most natives of Indonesia do not speak their native language Bahasa Indonesia. There are only 45 million native speakers who speak this language, and 155 million speakers of this language are non-natives.
Apart from Indonesia, this language is also spoken mostly in East Timor and Malaysia. If you are an English speaker, then learning this language will be much easier for you than a non-English speaker.
12. German (134 Million)
|Name In The Language||Deutsche|
The German language is the official language of Germany, and it has over 75 million native speakers in the country. This language is mostly spoken in Europe, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Austria. German is also the fifth most language to be studied all over the world.
There are a few German speakers in the parts of Poland and Italy. If you learn this language, then you can capitalize on many opportunities, such as working in a large company that requires you to have knowledge of the German language.
Wrapping Up! Most Spoken Languages (2023)
English is the most spoken language in the world, with over 1.4 billion speakers. You may be surprised that more than half of the speaking population does not even have English as their first language!
The reason why English is so widely spoken is because of the British Empire. They colonized about a quarter of the planet and influenced various countries and cultures.
Did any of the top 10 most spoken languages surprise you? Most people are surprised to find Bengali is one of the most popular since it does not get much global attention.
If you want to learn a new language, there are plenty of options. Choosing a popular one is beneficial if you plan to study abroad or expand your business.
Whatever your aim may be, we hope our article helped you find the answers to your questions. Please leave your feedback, questions, or suggestions in the comment section.
FAQ: Most Spoken Languages
While there are no accurate numbers for the rarely spoken languages, some of the most uncommonly spoken ones include Kawishana, Njerep, Paakantyi, etc. Such languages are spoken by less than ten individuals.
Hundreds of languages have become extinct due to the zero number of speakers. Currently, 573 languages are known to be extinct, as they are not spoken or studied by anyone in the world.
Italian is considered to be the most beautiful language. Many find the language attractive due to rolled r’s, round vowels, and melodic rhythm. Additionally, Italian hand gestures are the cherry on top.
Sanskrit is the oldest language still spoken by tens of thousands of people. It originated in 1500-600 BCE in the Indian subcontinent. Currently, there are no native speakers of the language. People study to learn the language and choose to speak it.
Languages usually die when native speakers become bilingual and lose fluency in their traditional languages. They speak in their second or third languages more and lose proficiency in their first language.