You won't go far in the world with just the Dutch language. Only 22 million people speak Dutch. Which language do you need to reach the largest number of people? You'll find out in this blog post. We present to you the top 10 most widely spoken languages in the world!

There are quite a lot of languages in use worldwide. If we count even the most obscure languages, the total comes to 7,000 different languages. Of course, not all of these languages have the same number of users. The Peruvian language Taushio, for example, is spoken by just one person. This top 10 is based on the number of users for whom the language is their native tongue.

English at the top? And where on the list is German?

Contrary to what many people think, and despite the fact that English is a global language, it does not even come close to being the language with the most native speakers. Read on to discover which language is number one. A few years ago, German was still in the top 10. Our neighbours have since been overtaken though.

The top 10 most widely spoken languages

No.LanguageInformationNumber of speakers
1.Mandarin ChineseMandarin Chinese is mainly spoken in the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the United States of America (New York City, mostly). It includes the following dialects: Northeastern Mandarin, Beijing, Ji-Lu, Jiao-Liao, Lower Yangtze, Central Plains, Lan-Yin, and Southwestern Mandarin (also known as Upper Yangtze). There are over 10,000 characters in Chinese writing, and Mandarin Chinese does not use inflections, conjugations, verb tenses or grammatical gender. That makes matters such as word order in a sentence of crucial importance. Added up, a Chinese translation is not easy to realise.1248 million
2.SpanishSpanish is a Romance language of the Ibero-Romance subgroup, first appearing in the north of central Iberia in the 9th century. Today, it is spoken in 21 countries. The historic roots of the language lie in Iberia, where it evolved from Latin. Influenced by the Celtiberian, Basque, Visigoth, and Arabic languages, a new language arose. Nowadays, most of its native speakers can be found in Latin-America. Spanish is sometimes also called Castilian. Within the language there are various dialects, such as Catalan. One convenient thing about Spanish is that its written and spoken forms follow each other closely. With knowledge of the basic rules, a Spanish text can be read aloud easily.437 million
3.EnglishBesides the native English speakers, another 0.5 to 1.8 billion people speak it as a second language. It is a West-Germanic language that evolved in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England (now part of Great-Britain). Within the English language, British English and American English can be differentiated. Its status as a global language is largely due to the cultural and scientific dominance of the USA. The English language borrowed many words from French, but Dutch too had its influence. Particularly from the days of close contact in South Africa: the word 'apartheid' is borrowed directly from Dutch.372 million
4.ArabicArabic has 4 different well-known dialects: Western (Maghrebi), Central (incl. Egyptian), Northern (incl. Levantine, Iraqi), and Southern (incl. Gulf, Hejazi, Yemeni). Modern Standard Arabic is a derivative of classical Arabic, the only surviving form of the Ancient North Arabian languages. Classical Arabic is a literary language too, and is widely seen as the mother tongue of the Islamic world. Arabic is written from right to left. Another striking characteristic is that the language only has three vowels!295 million
5.HindiThis language is otherwise known as "Manak Hindi". It is a standardised form of Hindustani, and one of the two official languages of India. Hindi has roots in both Sanskrit and Persian-Arabic. The script that Hindi uses is called "Devanagari". It is spoken in 17 different countries.260 million
6.BengaliBengali is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is the official language of Bangladesh and parts of India. Many of India's most famous literary works are written in Bengali. Noticeably, in Bengali words do not have a grammatical gender. Bengali uses verb tenses to differentiate between forms of address, these being polite, familiar, and intimate.242 million
7.PortuguesePortuguese is a Romance language evolved from the medieval Galician-Portuguese. Portuguese is of course spoken in Portugal, but also in Brazil, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tomé and Principe, East Timor, Mozambique and the Cape Verde islands. Brazilian Portuguese is different from the Portuguese spoken in the other countries. While the written language is still the same, its pronunciation has changed. Therefore, the spoken Portuguese in Portugal is rather difficult to understand for Brazilians.219 million
8.RussianA Slavic language, mainly spoken in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In these countries, Russian is the official language. Russian is also a common language in the Baltic states and Georgia, Moldavia, and Ukraine, even though it does not have an official status here. Russian uses the Cyrillic script, which makes translation a little bit more difficult. Some words in Russian even have a noticeable Dutch origin, mainly in relation to shipping.154 million
9.JapaneseUnlike most other languages, Japanese is placed in its own language family: the Japonic languages. This language family includes the languages of the Ryukyu Islands. Japanese has borrowed words from Chinese, and later on it also started to borrow words from Western languages. This happened in the 16th and 17th centuries through trade contact, with the word 'bīru', meaning 'beer', as a prime example.128 million
10.PunjabiPunjabi is the language most commonly spoken in Pakistan. The vocabulary of this language has been influenced by languages such as Hindi, Persian, and English. Its name comes from the former province of British India Punjab, which was divided between Pakistan and India when British rule ended.119 million
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