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"An English Book for Everyone. The entire time I was reading Walker Royce's "Eureka!..." I kept thinking, why didn't I have this book when: I was writing college term papers; sending out resumes; preparing for my first job interview; creating presentations; editing various publications; writing endless technical papers; introducing my sons to the beauty of the English language; and subsequently, reviewing their writing for many years to follow.

Royce's book excels beyond any other compendium on writing I've ever read, covering everything from the complex world of interpersonal communications to team dynamics and the intimacy of romance. Royce illustrates the mysteries and marvels of communications with overflowing enthusiasm, tongue-in-cheek humor, and torturous brain teasers. The chapter on verbosity alone is reason enough to buy this book.

Can a book on proper English usage teach life lessons? To use one of my favorite three-letter words, "yes." Royce infuses his common sense philosophy on life and personal interaction into his practical communication guidelines. He not only guides us on how to use words, but also gives us words to live by.
Would I recommend this book to just anyone? No, I would recommend it to everyone!"
Jane E. Shurtleff

 

"Actually a great book. Readers who love language will enjoy the book. I am impressed by the potential value of this fresh approach to the nuances of our language in a day when pristine verbal or written communication has been replaced by painful "texted" abbreviations and smiley faces. Do yourself a favor. Purchase this book and set aside some time when you can read intently without distraction. Plan to be surprised, enlightened, and reminded. Plan to reread passages & chapters. Plan to wish you could spend some time sitting around chatting with the author to see what makes such a creative author 'tick'."
Bruoff

 

Most Commonly Used Words

One intriguing window into English word usage is a list of the 100 most commonly used words. There is no authoritative, mathematically provable list, but studies done by Oxford Online and other organizations provide lists that are close enough to stimulate some interesting observations. The list shown below was published on Wikipedia. Some of the words represent more than one word. In the form below, you can paste in your own text and assess the most commonly used words in your own works. This is an insightful way to review your writing and look for overused words, or unexpected word frequencies. This form is limited to input of 100,000 words.

 

The 100 Most Frequently Used Words in the English Language

1 thru 5
the
be
to
of
and
6 thru 10
am
in
that
have
I
11 thru 15
it
for
not
on
with
16 thru 20
he
as
you
do
at
21 thru 25
this
but
his
by
from
26 thru 30
they
we
say
her
she
31 thru 35
or
an
will
my
one
36 thru 40
all
would
there
their
what
41 thru 45
so
up
out
if
about
46 thru 50
who
get
which
go
me
51 thru 55
when
make
can
like
time
56 thru 60
no
just
him
know
take
61 thru 65
people
into
year
your
good
66 thru 70
some
could
them
see
other
71 thru 75
than
then
now
look
only
76 thru 80
come
its
over
think
also
81 thru 85
back
after
use
two
how
86 thru 90
our
work
first
well
way
96 thru 95
even
new
want
because
any
96 thru 100
these
give
day
most
us



The most frequently used words are pretty boring as a group since they mostly represent the fundamental building blocks of the language: general pronouns, articles, conjunctions, prepositions, and so forth. However, a closer look at the relative frequencies of words resulted in some intriguing observations.

  1. I is #10; we is #27. It looks like "we" can be pretty self-centered.

  2. To be (existence) is the most popular verb, followed by to have (ownership). The only other verbs to make the list are say, will, get, make, know, see, look, come, think, use, work, want, and give. These popular verbs are primarily the things humans do that differentiate us from other life forms.

  3. Our order of interest in asking questions is what, who, which, and when. Why and where don’t even make the list. This does seem to reflect human nature. We care about outcomes more than the causes.

  4. The word take (#60) is used much more frequently than the word give (#97). Again, this seems to be a too accurate reflection of human nature.

  5. The word one is used frequently. The number two is also on the list. This is significant because in many cases, one is used as a pronoun or article, not as a number.

  6. The most frequently used noun is time (#55); the next is people (#61). People must be concerned about time.

  7. Year is the most frequently used measure of time, followed by day. This is counterintuitive to me. It suggests that more people think long-term than short-term. I suspect that if you included all the instances of yesterday, tomorrow, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the use of day words would dominate the word year.

  8. The word he shows up before his, and both are more frequently used than their feminine equivalents. The word her precedes she. Does this mean males are more often subjects and women are more often objects? This was certainly true in the past. I wonder how this is changing in today’s writing.

  9. The words good (#65), well (#89), and new (#92) are the only adjectives on the list. Who says we are all pessimists? Well is also used as an adverb, the only one on the list. I like that.

  10. The word first (#88) shows up in the top 100. Coming in first and knowing what is first are clearly important to most people.

  11. Why is there only one word of 7 letters or greater? Just because.

These observations say much about humans. It would be interesting to compare all of your conversations and writings, to analyze them and come up with your list of most frequently used words. This would probably say a lot about who you are. Try it yourself with the form at the top of the page.

 


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