The ten most spoken languages in the world

What are the ten most widely spoken languages in the world? Some of these might surprise you!


This one probably won’t surprise you as it is the language with the largest number of native speakers (over 955 million) in the world. We should be clear that we are talking about native speakers. Without specifying that, we would have to put English at number one, given the fact that almost the whole world is trying to learn English, or may have learnt it as a secondary language to some degreee.


This can be a big surprise to many, comfortably beating English to the number 2 position with over 405 million native speakers. If you do the math if becomes clear why. By adding together all of the densely populated Latin American countries we arrive at this staggering total.


With around 360 million native speakers, a number that is actually declining worldwide, English has surprisingly few native speakers in comparison with number 1 and 2 above, when one considers the very largely territories it covers. That might have something to do with the largely empty Canada and Australia.


Another surprise perhaps, but logical when you think about the very high population of India, where this language is widely spoken. But at 310 million native speakers, this is another biggie. Also spoken in Fiji as the official language and as a recognised regional language in Maurititus, and in Trinidad and Tobago


High on the list with upwards of 295 million speakers, this is the dominant language across the entire middle east and Arab world. In fact, there are actually 27 countries which have Arabic as their official language. Also an important language for cultural reasons, given that important works such as the Quran are written in Arabic.


This could be another surprise for those that are not aware of the sheer hugeness of Brazil, which is actually around the same size as Australia. But unlike Australia it possesses a really big population, which when combined with Portugal itself and other Portuguese speaking countries, such as Angola and Mozambique, adds ups to over 215 million.


Widely spoken in India as well as Bangladesh, this important language has upwards of 205 million speakers, pretty amazing when one considers it is just one of the languages spoken in India and by Indian people. It takes its name from the Indian region of Bengal.


The largest country in the world in terms of territory covered but only number 7 on the list when it comes to the number of native speakers, at 155 million. This language is spoken in a number of other countries besides Russian itself, such as Belarus and Kazakhstan.


The dense population of Japan accounts for this ranking, despite the relatively small size of the Japanese Islands. Japanese has approximately 125 million speakers according to recent estimates. As an interesting factoid, there are actually as many as 15 languages spoken around the Japanese Islands although most are considered dialects of Japanese itself, Ainu being the notable exception.


Shockingly, India has a third language in this list! Punjabi has around 100 million native speakers, and belongs to the Punjabi people from the historical region of the same name. This is language is the most widely spoken in Pakistan as well the fourth mostly widely spoken in the United Kingdom and with a significant presence in many other countries, especially commonwealth. Another interesting tidbit regarding Punjabi is that it is one of the very few languages that can be written in more than one script: Shahmukhi and Gurumukhi.

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