30 Most Spoken Languages in the World in 2024 [expert research]

A linguist specializing in psycholinguistics and Italian language education. I hold a Research Master’s in Linguistics and teach Italian, passionately connecting research with practical teaching.
Italian language tutor, course author. MEng, MBA. Member of the International Association of Hyperpolyglots (HYPIA). After learning 12 languages, I can tell you that we all master languages by listening and mimicking. I couldn’t find an app to recommend to my students, so I made my own one. With my method, you’ll be speaking Italian from Lesson 1.

A polyglot and a linguist researcher put together the most informative list of the most spoken languages in the world. It comes with an interactive map and plenty of new insights.

List of the top 42 languages by number of native speakers

At a glance

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Test your knowledge

Mandarin Chinese
How many Mandarin Chinese native speakers in the world?
941 millions
See all data
1
Spanish
How many Spanish native speakers in the world?
486 millions
See all data
2
English
How many English native speakers in the world?
379 millions
See all data
3
Hindi
How many Hindi native speakers in the world?
345 millions
See all data
4
Arabic
How many Arabic native speakers in the world?
310 millions
See all data
5
Bengali
How many Bengali native speakers in the world?
237 millions
See all data
6
Portuguese
How many Portuguese native speakers in the world?
236 millions
See all data
7
Russian
How many Russian native speakers in the world?
148 millions
See all data
8
Punjabi
How many Punjabi native speakers in the world?
148 millions
See all data
9
Japanese
How many Japanese native speakers in the world?
123 millions
See all data
10
German
How many German native speakers in the world?
95 millions
See all data
11
Telugu
How many Telugu native speakers in the world?
95 millions
See all data
12
Vietnamese
How many Vietnamese native speakers in the world?
85 millions
See all data
13
Cantonese
How many Cantonese native speakers in the world?
85 millions
See all data
14
Turkish
How many Turkish native speakers in the world?
84 millions
See all data
15
Marathi
How many Marathi native speakers in the world?
83 millions
See all data
16
Wu Chinese
How many Wu Chinese native speakers in the world?
82 millions
See all data
17
Korean
How many Korean native speakers in the world?
81 millions
See all data
18
Tamil
How many Tamil native speakers in the world?
79 millions
See all data
19
French
How many French native speakers in the world?
74 millions
See all data
20
Urdu
How many Urdu native speakers in the world?
70 millions
See all data
21
Javanese
How many Javanese native speakers in the world?
68 millions
See all data
22
Italian
How many Italian native speakers in the world?
67 millions
See all data
23
Farsi
How many Farsi native speakers in the world?
62 millions
See all data
24
Malay/Indonesian
How many Malay/Indonesian native speakers in the world?
60 millions
See all data
25
Gujarati
How many Gujarati native speakers in the world?
58 millions
See all data
26
Hausa
How many Hausa native speakers in the world?
54 millions
See all data
27
Bhojpuri
How many Bhojpuri native speakers in the world?
53 millions
See all data
28
Min Nan Chinese
How many Min Nan Chinese native speakers in the world?
51 millions
See all data
29
Kannada
How many Kannada native speakers in the world?
49 millions
See all data
30
Jin Chinese
How many Jin Chinese native speakers in the world?
45 millions
See all data
31
Yoruba
How many Yoruba native speakers in the world?
44 millions
See all data
32
Hakka Chinese
How many Hakka Chinese native speakers in the world?
44 millions
See all data
33
Polish
How many Polish native speakers in the world?
40 millions
See all data
34
Odia
How many Odia native speakers in the world?
35 millions
See all data
35
Tagalog
How many Tagalog native speakers in the world?
34 millions
See all data
36
Burmese
How many Burmese native speakers in the world?
33 millions
See all data
37
Amharic
How many Amharic native speakers in the world?
32 millions
See all data
38
Lingala
How many Lingala native speakers in the world?
27 millions
See all data
39
Thai
How many Thai native speakers in the world?
21 millions
See all data
40
Swahili
How many Swahili native speakers in the world?
16 millions
See all data
41
Nigerian Pidgin
How many Nigerian Pidgin native speakers in the world?
5 millions
See all data
42

World map of the most spoken languages

To keep the map simple, only one hotspot was added in the country with the most native speakers to represent one language.

To avoid crowding the map, only the top 21 languages are displayed. You find the others on the list below the map.

Click a spot on the map below to learn everything about the language.

languages world map

Italian

Mandarin Chinese

Spanish

English

Hindi

Arabic

Bengali

Portuguese

Russian

Japanese

Marathi

French

Korean

German

Turkish

Vietnamese

Telugu

Urdu

Malay/Indonesian

Gujarati

Amharic

Language profiles

Native speakers
Native speakers - slider
202000
Difficulty for an English speaker
Difficulty for an English speaker - slider
0100

Mandarin Chinese

1

Population

Native speakers
0 M
Non-native speakers
0 M
Stable
Forecast

Overview

Mandarin is key for business and cultural discourse in China, characterized by its four tones and pictographic script.

Mandarin Chinese is spoken in

china flag
China

Also in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia

Example of Mandarin Chinese writing

chinese writing sample

What Mandarin Chinese sounds like

language audio sample
Play Video about language audio sample

Features of the Mandarin Chinese language

Writing
Simplified and Traditional Chinese Characters
(6500 characters)
Family
Sino-Tibetan
Dialects
Jin, Wu (Shanghainese), Yue (Cantonese), Min, Xiang, Hakka, Gan, etc.
Similar to
Cantonese, Shanghainese

Words and sentences can be constructed in 3 ways:

  1. Isolating: Minimal inflection, word order crucial, as in Chinese.
  2. Agglutinative: Affixes stacked cleanly, clear grammatical functions, as in Turkish.
  3. Fusional: Affixes express multiple grammatical aspects, as in Spanish.
Isolating

Pitch variations that change meaning within syllables.

Yes

Adjusts verb forms to express tense, mood, person, number, and aspect.

No

Changing a noun’s form to express grammatical categories like case, number, and gender. Example: Latin nouns.

 

 

No

Presence of honorifics, i.e. forms of speech or grammatical forms that encode respect, social distance, politeness, or formality.

Moderate

Example of SVO word order:
Subject (S) – Verb (V) – Object (O)

Example sentence:
The girl (S) ate (V) an apple (O).

SVO

Fun fact

Mandarin is a tonal language with four main tones and one neutral tone, which means the pitch or intonation used when saying a word can change its meaning completely. For instance, the word "ma" can mean "mother," "horse," "hemp," or "scold," depending on the tone used!

Power

Political influence
Cultural influence​
Economic relevance​
Digital presence
Difficulty for English speakers
Online search trend

Spanish

2

Population

Native speakers
0 M
Non-native speakers
0 M
Stable
Forecast

Overview

A global language, Spanish is cherished for its melodic sound and extensive literature, from the Golden Age to modern times.

Spanish is spoken in

mexican flag
Mexico

Also in Spain, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Equatorial Guinea.

Example of Spanish writing

spanish writing sample

What Spanish sounds like

language audio sample
Play Video about language audio sample

Features of the Spanish language

Writing
Latin script
(26 characters)
Family
Indo-European, Romance
Dialects
European Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Caribbean Spanish, Andean-Pacific Spanish
Similar to
Portuguese, Italian, French

Words and sentences can be constructed in 3 ways:

  1. Isolating: Minimal inflection, word order crucial, as in Chinese.
  2. Agglutinative: Affixes stacked cleanly, clear grammatical functions, as in Turkish.
  3. Fusional: Affixes express multiple grammatical aspects, as in Spanish.
Fusional

Pitch variations that change meaning within syllables.

No

Adjusts verb forms to express tense, mood, person, number, and aspect.

Yes

Changing a noun’s form to express grammatical categories like case, number, and gender. Example: Latin nouns.

 

 

Yes

Presence of honorifics, i.e. forms of speech or grammatical forms that encode respect, social distance, politeness, or formality.

Limited

Example of SVO word order:
Subject (S) – Verb (V) – Object (O)

Example sentence:
The girl (S) ate (V) an apple (O).

SVO

Fun fact

Spanish is the official language on four continents.

Power

Political influence
Cultural influence​
Economic relevance​
Digital presence
Difficulty for English speakers
Online search trend

English

3

Population

Native speakers
0 M
Non-native speakers
0 M
Growing
Forecast

Overview

English is a global lingua franca in business, science, and internet communication, evolving from Anglo-Saxon roots to modern diversity.

English is spoken in

united states flag
USA

Also in UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Jamaica, Philippines, Singapore, Malta

Example of English writing

english writing sample

What English sounds like

language audio sample
Play Video about language audio sample

Features of the English language

Writing
Latin script
(30 characters)
Family
Indo-European
Dialects
American English, British English, Australian English, etc.
Similar to
German, Dutch, Frisian

Words and sentences can be constructed in 3 ways:

  1. Isolating: Minimal inflection, word order crucial, as in Chinese.
  2. Agglutinative: Affixes stacked cleanly, clear grammatical functions, as in Turkish.
  3. Fusional: Affixes express multiple grammatical aspects, as in Spanish.
Fusional

Pitch variations that change meaning within syllables.

No

Adjusts verb forms to express tense, mood, person, number, and aspect.

Yes

Changing a noun’s form to express grammatical categories like case, number, and gender. Example: Latin nouns.

 

 

No

Presence of honorifics, i.e. forms of speech or grammatical forms that encode respect, social distance, politeness, or formality.

Limited

Example of SVO word order:
Subject (S) – Verb (V) – Object (O)

Example sentence:
The girl (S) ate (V) an apple (O).

SVO

Fun fact

English is known as a "borrower" language; it has adopted words from over 350 other languages throughout its history.

Power

Political influence
Cultural influence​
Economic relevance​
Digital presence
Difficulty for English speakers
Online search trend

Hindi

4

Population

Native speakers
0 M
Non-native speakers
0 M
Growing
Forecast

Overview

Central to Indian identity, Hindi carries classical literature and is spoken by millions as a mother tongue and second language.

Hindi is spoken in

indian flag
India

Also in Nepal, Fiji, South Africa, Mauritius

Example of Hindi writing

indian writing sample

What Hindi sounds like

language audio sample
Play Video about language audio sample

Features of the Hindi language

Writing
Devanagari script
(47 characters)
Family
Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan
Dialects
Several regional dialects across northern and central India
Similar to
Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati

Words and sentences can be constructed in 3 ways:

  1. Isolating: Minimal inflection, word order crucial, as in Chinese.
  2. Agglutinative: Affixes stacked cleanly, clear grammatical functions, as in Turkish.
  3. Fusional: Affixes express multiple grammatical aspects, as in Spanish.
Fusional

Pitch variations that change meaning within syllables.

No

Adjusts verb forms to express tense, mood, person, number, and aspect.

Yes

Changing a noun’s form to express grammatical categories like case, number, and gender. Example: Latin nouns.

 

 

Yes

Presence of honorifics, i.e. forms of speech or grammatical forms that encode respect, social distance, politeness, or formality.

Moderate

Example of SVO word order:
Subject (S) – Verb (V) – Object (O)

Example sentence:
The girl (S) ate (V) an apple (O).

SOV

Fun fact

Hindi shares its script, Devanagari, with Sanskrit, and many words are directly borrowed from it.

Power

Political influence
Cultural influence​
Economic relevance​
Digital presence
Difficulty for English speakers
Online search trend

Arabic

5

Population

Native speakers
0 M
Non-native speakers
0 M
Growing
Forecast

Overview

Rich in history, Arabic is the liturgical language of Islam and is known for its beautiful script and poetic tradition.

Arabic is spoken in

egypt flag
Egypt

Also in Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon

Example of Arabic writing

arabic writing sample

What Arabic sounds like

language audio sample
Play Video about language audio sample

Features of the Arabic language

Writing
Arabic script
(28 characters)
Family
Afro-Asiatic, Semitic
Dialects
Egyptian Arabic, Gulf Arabic, Maghrebi Arabic, Levantine Arabic, etc.
Similar to
Hebrew, Aramaic, Maltese

Words and sentences can be constructed in 3 ways:

  1. Isolating: Minimal inflection, word order crucial, as in Chinese.
  2. Agglutinative: Affixes stacked cleanly, clear grammatical functions, as in Turkish.
  3. Fusional: Affixes express multiple grammatical aspects, as in Spanish.
Fusional

Pitch variations that change meaning within syllables.

No

Adjusts verb forms to express tense, mood, person, number, and aspect.

Yes

Changing a noun’s form to express grammatical categories like case, number, and gender. Example: Latin nouns.

 

 

Yes

Presence of honorifics, i.e. forms of speech or grammatical forms that encode respect, social distance, politeness, or formality.

Moderate

Example of SVO word order:
Subject (S) – Verb (V) – Object (O)

Example sentence:
The girl (S) ate (V) an apple (O).

VSO

Fun fact

Classical Arabic has barely changed in over 1,400 years, making ancient texts still largely comprehensible to modern speakers.

Power

Political influence
Cultural influence​
Economic relevance​
Digital presence
Difficulty for English speakers
Online search trend

Bengali

6

Population

Native speakers
0 M
Non-native speakers
0 M
Stable
Forecast

Overview

A language of profound literary heritage, Bengali is the language of Rabindranath Tagore and the national anthem of Bangladesh.

Bengali is spoken in

bangladesh flag
Bangladesh

Also in India

Example of Bengali writing

bengali writing sample

What Bengali sounds like

language audio sample
Play Video about language audio sample

Features of the Bengali language

Writing
Bengali script
(50 characters)
Family
Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan
Dialects
Chittagonian, Sylheti, Rangpuri, etc.
Similar to
Assamese, Odia

Words and sentences can be constructed in 3 ways:

  1. Isolating: Minimal inflection, word order crucial, as in Chinese.
  2. Agglutinative: Affixes stacked cleanly, clear grammatical functions, as in Turkish.
  3. Fusional: Affixes express multiple grammatical aspects, as in Spanish.
Fusional

Pitch variations that change meaning within syllables.

No

Adjusts verb forms to express tense, mood, person, number, and aspect.

Yes

Changing a noun’s form to express grammatical categories like case, number, and gender. Example: Latin nouns.

 

 

Yes

Presence of honorifics, i.e. forms of speech or grammatical forms that encode respect, social distance, politeness, or formality.

Moderate