25 Most Spoken Languages in the World

To start with, we might have heard of many languages which are spoken around the world. However, we don’t usually know the most spoken languages around the world.

Moreover, it is actually a tricky question when someone asks you about the languages which are the most spoken in the world.

Mostly every country has its own official language which is given legal status as well. However, it has to be noted that apart from the country’s official language, there also exists a few other categories like regional, minority, national, and popularly spoken languages that help in identifying how many portions of a country’s population speaks a particular language.

25 Most Spoken Languages Around the World

Don’t get surprised that there are around 6900 languages that are currently spoken by people from different countries in the world. We have compiled the major languages which are most spoken in the world. Additionally, we have included the count of people speaking these languages apart from where they are mostly spoken and their origin.

Let us now get into the 25 most spoken languages around the world as per the 2021 edition of Ethnologue.

1. English

Number of Speakers: 1348 Million

Origin: The English language takes its origin from Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by German tribes Anglo-Saxon migrants) back in the 5th century AD.

English-speaking countries: Australia, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Ireland, Israel, Lesotho, Liberia, Malaysia, Micronesia, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, S. Africa, Suriname, Swaziland, Tonga, U.K., U.S., Vanuatu, Zimbabwe, many Caribbean states, Zambia.

Almost 20 percent of the world’s population speaks English today which includes 480 million native English speakers. English also boasts to be the official language for international business.

2.  Mandarin Chinese

Number of Speakers: 1120 Million

Origin: The Mandarin language originated in North China

Mandarin Chinese-speaking Places: China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand

Mandarin Chinese is one of the most popular languages among the 297 languages spoken in China. This is the largest speaking native language in comparison to any other language as over 70% of Chinese speak this language.

Also, there happens to be a debate, that Mandarin can slowly replace English as the language of international business. However, this does not seem to be possible as most people outside Asia do not know this language.

3. Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu)

Number of Speakers: 600 Million

Origin: Hindi originates from the Indo-European linguistic family. It is a direct descendant of an early form of Vedic Sanskrit which emerged in the 7th century CE

Hindustani-speaking Countries: India, Nepal, Singapore, S. Africa, Uganda, Pakistan (Urdu)

Hindustani refers to Hindi as well as Urdu languages. It is an official language in India whereas Urdu is the official language of Pakistan.

4. Spanish

Number of Speakers: 543 Million

Origin: Spanish originated in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe

Spanish-speaking Countries: Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Algeria, Andorra, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Chad, Costa Rica, Dominican Rep., El Salvador, Eq. Guinea, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali,  Morocco, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Togo, Tunisia, United States, Uruguay

Most of the people speaking Spanish are found in Mexico. Also, 41 million people are said to be speaking Spanish as their first language across the United States border. The prediction is that the U.S. can become the most Spanish-speaking country by the end of 2050.

5. Arabic

Number of Speakers: 274 Million

Origin: Believed to be originated from the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula

Arabic-speaking countries: Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Somalia, Chad, United Arab Emirates, Lybia, Jordan, Eritrea, UAE, Oman, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Mauritania, Kuwait, Qatar, Qatar, Tanzania, Djibouti, Comoros

The Arabic language which emerged from the Arabian Peninsula is popularly spoken in the Middle East and nearby Asian and African countries.

6. Bengali

Number of Speakers: 268 Million

Origin: Bengali is an Indo-Aryan language of the eastern Indian subcontinent that originated from the Magadhi Prakrit, Pāli, and Sanskrit languages.

Bengali-speaking Countries: Bangladesh, India, United Kingdom, United States, Middle East.

While around 100 million people speak Bengali in Bangladesh, there are around 85 million Bengali-speaking people in India.

7. French

Number of Speakers: 267 Million

Origin: This is a Romance language that originated from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire

French-speaking Countries: France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Congo-Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Haiti, Benin

French is a popularly spoken language around the world owing to the number of conquests and settlements of France. French is one of two official languages in Canada. Around 78.4 percent of locals in Quebec are said to be speaking in French as their mother tongue.

8. Russian

Number of Speakers: 258 Million

Origin: Russian is an East Slavic language that originated in Eastern Europe

Russian-speaking countries: Belarus, China, Estonia, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, U.S., Uzbekistan

9. Portuguese

Number of Speakers: 258 Million

Origin: Portuguese originated from Latin in the Western Iberian Peninsula.

Portuguese-speaking Countries: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, France, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Macau

Despite Portugal being a small country, the Romance language, Portuguese is widespread, thanks to the Portuguese colonizers, traders as well as missionaries who spread it to different parts of the world.

10. Urdu (excl. Hindi)

Number of Speakers: 230 Million

Origin: The origin of Urdu dates back to the 12th century from the regional Apabhramsha in north India around Delhi

Urdu-speaking Countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Nepal

11. Indonesian (excl. Malay)

Number of Speakers: 199 Million

Origin: The Indonesian language originated from Malay

Indonesian-speaking Countries: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Netherlands

12. Standard German

Number of Speakers: 135 Million

Origin: Most of the German language emerged from the Indo-European language family’s ancient Germanic branch

Standard German-speaking Countries: Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Czech Rep., Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland

13. Japanese

Number of Speakers: 126 Million

Origin: It is probably believed to be brought to Japan by migrants from the Korean Peninsula around 700–300 B.C

Japanese-speaking Countries: Japan, Palau, U.S., Brazil

14. Marathi

Number of Speakers: 99 Million

Origin: Marathi is part of the Indo-Aryan language family which originated from early forms of Prakrit

Marathi-speaking Countries: India (Maharashtra state)

15. Telugu

Number of Speakers: 96 Million

Origin: Telugu language origin dates back to the 6th century derived from the Proto-Dravidian language.

Telugu-speaking Countries: India, South Africa, United States

16. Turkish

Number of Speakers: 88 Million

Origin: The Turkish language originated around 1300 years ago in a region of East Asia.

Turkish-speaking Countries: Turkey, Germany, Bulgaria, Iraq, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania along with few other regions of Eastern Europe.

17. Tamil

Number of Speakers: 85 Million

Origin: The Tamil language originated from the Proto Dravidian language whose existence is said to be before 500 BC.

Tamil-speaking Countries: India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Mauritius

18. Yue Chinese (incl. Cantonese)

Number of Speakers: 85 Million

Origin: Yue Chinese language has been descended from Middle Chinese directly

Yue Chinese-speaking Places: Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Macau, Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Cambodia), Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and the United States

19. Wu Chinese (incl. Shanghainese)

Number of Speakers: 82 Million

Origin: The origin of Wu Chinese dates back to over 3,000 years and is the most ancient of the six major southern varieties of Chinese languages

Wu Chinese-speaking Places: Shanghai, southeastern province of Jiangsu, Zhejiang province, China (Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Ningpo, and Wenzhou)

20. Korean

Number of Speakers:  82 Million

Origin: The Korean language is said to be a member of the Altaic family of languages whose origin occurred in northern Asia

Korean-speaking Places: South Korea, North Korea, Japan, United States, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands

21. Vietnamese

Number of Speakers:  77 million

Origin: Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that took its origin from Vietnam (The national and official language in Vietnam is Vietnamese)

Vietnamese-speaking Countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, United States, Australia, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Finland, France, Germany, Laos, Martinique, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Norway, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Vanuatu.

22. Hausa

Number of Speakers:  75 million

Origin: There is not much clarity about the origin of the Hausa language. It is said to take its origin from West Africa

Hausa-speaking Places: Northern Nigeria and Niger, northern Ghana, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Fulani, Tuareg, Kanuri, Gur, Shuwa Arab, as well as other Afro-Asiatic speaking groups.

23. Iranian Persian (excl. Dari and Tajik)

Number of Speakers: 74 Million

Origin: Iranian Persian (Persian, Western Persian, or Farsi) originated in Fars (Persia) in southwestern Iran. Its grammar is similar to that of many European languages.

Iranian Persian-speaking Places: Iran, Iraq, Persian Gulf states.

24. Egyptian Spoken Arabic (excl. other Arabic dialects)

Number of Speakers: 70 Million

Origin: This language originated from the Quranic Arabic in Lower Egypt’s Nile Delta (around the capital Cairo)

Egyptian Spoken Arabic-speaking Countries: Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

25. Swahili

Number of Speakers: 69 Million

Origin: Swahili language origin comes from the Bantu languages of the east coast of Africa

Swahili-speaking Countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros Islands, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia.

25 Most Spoken Languages in the World

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