There are currently more than 7,000 different languages. Only 23 of them are spoken by more than half of the world’s population, either as their original tongue or as a second language. This is so because of the globalization era we are living in, and as a result of this globalization, many different languages have been introduced into our lives. Of course, some have emerged as the most spoken languages in the world.
Language is an important tool for communication and understanding the world around us. It is important to note that this list is based on the number of both native speakers and second-language speakers.
The most widely spoken languages in the world are English, Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish, according to our source. Overall, the most widely spoken language in the world is English Language. However, in terms of the number of native speakers, Mandarin (Chinese) is the most widely spoken language.
Let’s now look at the top 10 languages that have the highest number of speakers…
Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in the World
1. English (1.5 billion speakers)
- First language: 372.9 million
- Total speakers: 1.5 billion
English is the most-spoken language in the world, by both native and non-native speakers. It is the default language in international business, tourism, technology, and much more. 55% of the internet is in English, and it is the most studied language in the world. Plus, English is the official language of 67 countries.
Over 1.5 billion people speak English as both a first and second language. If you’re reading this article, you may be one of the 373 million-native English speakers or one of the over a billion people who speak it as a second language.
Related: 10 Oldest Languages in the World
2. Mandarin (1.14 billion speakers)
- First language speakers: 929 million
- Total speakers: 1.14 billion
Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken first language in the world, and is officially considered the Official Language of the People’s Republic of China. It has around 1.4 billion inhabitants and 929 Million native speakers over a large area in China and 33 countries around the world.
3. Hindi (603 million speakers)
- First language speakers: 344 million
- Total speakers: 610 million
Hindi is one of the official languages of India, the second most inhabited country in the world, and is spoken by over a quarter of the population of Nepal. It is one of the most popular languages in the world, with over 344 million native speakers. It is also the third most spoken language globally. Hindi is also spoken in Fiji and some Caribbean countries, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana.
Whether aspiring to work in international business or any other industry, acquiring proficiency in Hindi can prove highly advantageous for career advancement and establishing connections with Hindi-speaking businesses. India is a major player in today’s world economy, and Hindi serves as the most widely spoken language in the country.
4. Spanish (559 million speakers)
- First language speakers: 474.7 million
- Total speakers: 559 million
Spanish is the second most widely spoken language globally in terms of native speakers (475 million native speakers) and is the most spoken of the Romance languages. It is the third most used on the internet. It is the official language of 21 countries, one of the official languages of the United Nations, and has also influenced several other languages.
In the US, there are over 40 million Spanish speakers, and Spanish has become more influential in pop culture. Today, there are 21 Spanish-speaking countries in the world, with dozens more that have a significant Spanish-speaking population. The United States is the second country with the largest number of Spanish speakers in the world.
5. French (310 million speakers)
- First language speakers: 79.9 million
- Total speakers: 310 million
The French language has spread throughout the world, with 29 French-speaking countries today. It is considered the language of culture and is the third language with the largest number of non-native speakers. French is also the second most widely learned foreign language after English
It is also the official language of the UN, EU, and other major international organizations. The French vocabulary has also had a tremendous impact on other languages, including English, with 40% of English words having a French origin.
6. Standard Arabic (274 million speakers)
- First language speakers: 0 million
- Total speakers: 274 million
Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the only language on this list without native speakers. Arabic is a large language with many different dialects, and all speakers grow up speaking a local dialect. MSA is used in newspapers, TV broadcasts, and movies, but people don’t speak it with each other.
MSA is the sixth most spoken language in the world, written from right to left, and has heavily influenced European languages. However, there are zero native speakers of MSA, making it one of the most spoken languages in the world.
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7. Bengali (273 million speakers)
- First language speakers: 234 million
- Total speakers: 273 million
Bengali is the official language of Bangladesh and is also spoken in some areas of India and Burma. It is the second most spoken language in India, behind Hindi, and is considered by some to be the second most beautiful language after French. The Bengali alphabet is particularly interesting, with every consonant having a vowel sound built-in and different marks changing the default vowel sound of a word. The country of Bangladesh actually got its name from the language.
With around 273 million speakers, it’s the seventh most spoken language in the world.
8. Portuguese (264 million speakers)
- First language speakers: 232 million
- Total speakers: 264 million
Portuguese is the eighth most popular language in the world, with an impressive over 232 million native speakers and nearly 264 million speakers in total. It is the official language in 10 countries across South America, Africa, and Europe, and is the fastest-growing European language after English.
Portuguese is rooted in the region of Medieval Galicia, but only five percent of the 215 million native Portuguese speakers actually live in Portugal. In writing, a lot of Portuguese and Spanish words are usually mutually intelligible, and Portuguese can also serve as a solid foundation if you want to learn other romance languages.
9. Russian (255 million speakers)
- First language speakers: 154 million
- Total speakers: 255 million
Russian is the ninth most spoken language in the world, with 154 million native speakers. Although it is the official language of only four countries, it is widely spoken in 19 countries. It is also the language with the highest number of native speakers in Europe, with 154 million native speakers. It is one of the six languages spoken in the United Nations
10. Urdu (232 million speakers)
- First language speakers: 70.2 million
- Total speakers: 232 million
Urdu is one of the two official languages in Pakistan and is also widely used in certain regions of India. The spoken part of Urdu is widely intelligible with Hindi, as both speakers can understand each other without much issue. It completes our list of the top 10 most spoken languages in the world, with 232 people speaking it as native or second language.
Urdu is written from right to left with the same alphabet used for Arabic and Persian, but its origin is different from that of these two languages. It was passed down by the Mongols from northern India and has been performed for centuries thanks to trade.
Language is an important tool for communication and understanding the world around us. This list is based on the number of both native speakers and second-language speakers. The most widely spoken languages in the world are English, Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish. English is the most widely spoken language overall, but Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in terms of native speakers.