Approximately 330 to 360 million people speak English as their first
United States has the most native speakers at 258
million. Additionally, there are 60 million native English speakers in
the United Kingdom, 19 million in Canada, 16.5 million in Australia,
4.5 million in Ireland, and 3.8 million in New Zealand. Other
countries also use English as their primary and official languages.
English is the third largest language by number of native speakers,
after Mandarin and Spanish.
Estimates that include second language speakers vary greatly, from 470
million to more than 1 billion.
David Crystal calculates that, as of
2003, non-native speakers outnumbered native speakers by a ratio of 3
to 1. When combining native and non-native speakers, English is the
most widely spoken language worldwide.
Besides the major varieties of English, such as American English,
British English, Canadian English, Australian English, Irish English,
New Zealand English and their sub-varieties, countries such as South
Africa, India, the Philippines,
Nigeria also have millions
of native speakers of dialect continua ranging from English-based
creole languages to Standard English.
1 Majority English-speaking countries
2 Countries where English is an official language
3 English as a global language
Majority English-speaking countries
Countries where English is spoken natively by the majority
of the population.
List of countries by English-speaking population
List of countries by English-speaking population and
There are six large countries with a majority of native English
speakers that are sometimes grouped under the term Anglosphere. In
numbers of English speakers they are: the
United States (at least 231
United Kingdom (60 million),
least 20 million),
Australia (at least 17 million),, Ireland
(4.2 million) and
New Zealand (3.8 million). 
Pie chart showing the percentage of native English speakers living in
"inner circle" English-speaking countries. Native speakers are now
substantially outnumbered worldwide by second-language speakers of
English (not counted in this chart).
United States (64.3%)
United Kingdom (16.7%)
South Africa (1.3%)
New Zealand (1.1%)
English is also the primary natively spoken language in the countries
and territories of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas,
Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the British Indian Ocean Territory, the
British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, the Falkland
Islands, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guam, Guernsey, Guyana, the Isle of Man,
Jamaica, Jersey, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension
and Tristan da Cunha, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Trinidad and
Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Other substantial communities of native speakers are found in South
Africa (4.8 million) and
Nigeria (4 million, 5%).
Countries where English is an official language
Main article: List of territorial entities where English is an
In some countries where English is not the most spoken language, it is
an official language; these countries include Botswana, Cameroon
(co-official with French), the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji,
Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Malta, the
Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papua
New Guinea, the Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Seychelles,
Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Africa,
South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda,
Zambia and Zimbabwe. There
also are countries where in a part of the territory English became a
co-official language, e.g. Colombia's
San Andrés y Providencia
San Andrés y Providencia and
Nicaragua's Mosquito Coast. This was a result of the influence of
British colonization in the area.
India has the largest number of second-language speakers of English
(see Indian English); Crystal (2004) claims that, combining native and
India has more people who speak or understand
English than any other country in the world.
English is one of the eleven official languages that are given equal
South Africa (South African English). It is also the
official language in current dependent territories of Australia
Christmas Island and Cocos Island) and of the United
States (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico
(in Puerto Rico, English is co-official with Spanish) and the US
Virgin Islands), and the former British colony of Hong Kong. (See
List of countries where English is an official language
List of countries where English is an official language for more
United States federal government has no official
languages, English has been given official status by 32 of the 50 US
state governments. Although falling short of official status,
English is also an important language in several former colonies and
protectorates of the United Kingdom, such as Bahrain, Bangladesh,
Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates.
English as a global language
See also: English in computing, International English, World
Englishes, World language, and English as a second or foreign language
States and territories in which English is
the first language of the majority of the population.
States and territories in which English is an
official, but not the majority language.
Because English is so widely spoken, it has often been referred to as
a "world language", the lingua franca of the modern era, and while
it is not an official language in most countries, it is currently the
language most often taught as a foreign language. It is, by
international treaty, the official language for aeronautical and
maritime communications. English is one of the official languages
United Nations and many other international organizations,
including the International Olympic Committee. It is also one of two
co-official languages for astronauts (besides the Russian language)
serving on board the International Space Station.
English is studied most often in the European Union, and the
perception of the usefulness of foreign languages among Europeans is
67 percent in favour of English ahead of 17 percent for German and 16
percent for French (as of 2012). Among some of the
non-English-speaking EU countries, the following percentages of the
adult population claimed to be able to converse in English in 2012: 90
percent in the Netherlands, 89 percent in Malta, 86 percent in Sweden
and Denmark, 73 percent in
Cyprus and Austria, 70 percent in Finland,
and over 50 percent in Greece, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovenia, and
Germany. In 2012, excluding native speakers, 38 percent of Europeans
consider that they can speak English.
Books, magazines, and newspapers written in English are available in
many countries around the world, and English is the most commonly used
language in the sciences with
Science Citation Index reporting as
early as 1997 that 95% of its articles were written in English, even
though only half of them came from authors in English-speaking
In publishing, English literature predominates considerably with 28
percent of all books published in the world [leclerc 2011] and 30
percent of web content in 2011 (down from 50 percent in 2000).
This increasing use of the
English language globally has had a large
impact on many other languages, leading to language shift and even
language death, and to claims of linguistic imperialism. English
itself has become more open to language shift as multiple regional
varieties feed back into the language as a whole.
^ Crystal 2006, pp. 424–426.
^ "Summary by language size". Ethnologue:
Languages of the World.
Retrieved 10 February 2015.
^ Crystal, David (2003). English as a Global Language (2nd ed.).
Cambridge University Press. p. 69.
^ Ryan 2013, Table 1.
^ Office for National Statistics 2013, Key Points.
^ National Records of Scotland 2013.
^ Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency 2012, Table KS207NI:
^ Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013.
New Zealand 2014.
^ Data are from national censuses conducted in 2010 or 2011 in the
South Africa 2012, Table 2.5 Population by first language
spoken and province (number).
^ Crystal 2004b.
^ Nancy Morris (1995). Puerto Rico: Culture, Politics, and Identity.
Praeger/Greenwood. p. 62. ISBN 0-275-95228-2.
^ "U.S. English, Inc". U.S. English. Archived from the original on 6
January 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
^ "U.S. English Chairman Applauds West Virginia Bill to Declare
English the States Official Language". U.S. English. Archived from the
original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
^ a b
David Graddol (1997). "The Future of English?" (PDF). The
British Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2007.
Retrieved 15 April 2007.
^ Crystal, David (2003a). English as a Global Language (2nd ed.).
Cambridge University Press. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-521-53032-3.
Retrieved 4 February 2015. Lay summary (PDF) – Library of Congress
(sample) (4 February 2015). Northrup, David (20 March 2013). How
English Became the Global Language. Palgrave Macmillan.
ISBN 978-1-137-30306-6. Retrieved 25 March 2015. Lay summary (25
^ "ICAO Promotes Aviation Safety by Endorsing English Language
Testing". International Civil Aviation Organization. 13 October
^ "IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases". International Maritime
Organization. Archived from the original on 27 December 2003.
^ European Commission (June 2012).
Special Eurobarometer 386:
Europeans and Their
Languages (PDF) (Report). Eurobarometer Special
Surveys. Retrieved 12 February 2015. Lay summary (PDF) (27 March
^ Northrup 2013.
David Crystal (2000) Language Death, Preface; viii, Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge
^ Jambor, Paul Z. (April 2007). "English Language Imperialism: Points
of View". Journal of English as an International Language. 2:
Australian Bureau of Statistics (28 March 2013). "2011 Census
QuickStats: Australia". Retrieved 25 March 2015.
Bao, Z. (2006). "Variation in Nonnative Varieties of English". In
Brown, Keith. Encyclopedia of language & linguistics. Elsevier.
pp. 377–380. doi:10.1016/B0-08-044854-2/04257-7.
ISBN 978-0-08-044299-0. Retrieved 6 February 2015. Lay summary (6
February 2015). – via
ScienceDirect (Subscription may be required or content may be
available in libraries.)
Crystal, David (19 November 2004b). "Subcontinent Raises Its Voice".
The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
Crystal, David (2006). "Chapter 9: English worldwide". In Denison,
David; Hogg, Richard M. A History of the English language. Cambridge
University Press. pp. 420–439.
National Records of Scotland (26 September 2013). "Census 2011:
Release 2A". Scotland's Census 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (11 December 2012).
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(PDF). Statistics Bulletin. Table KS207NI: Main Language. Retrieved 16
Office for National Statistics (4 March 2013). "Language in England
and Wales, 2011". 2011 Census Analysis. Retrieved 16 December
Ryan, Camille (August 2013). "Language Use in the United States: 2011"
(PDF). American Community Survey Reports. p. 1. Retrieved 16
Canada (22 August 2014). "Population by mother tongue and
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territories". Retrieved 25 March 2015.
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