7 Spanish Frequency Dictionaries to Boost Essential Vocabulary
A frequency dictionary is a list of the most frequently used words in a language.
These special dictionaries are designed to help language learners build essential core vocabulary—and the Spanish frequency dictionary is a Spanish learner’s best friend.
So which of these extremely handy language learning helpers should you use yourself? And how do you use them?
We’ll peruse the offerings so you can find the perfect match, and then we’ll go over how they can help you study smarter.
- Best Spanish Frequency Dictionaries
- How to Use Spanish Frequency Dictionaries
- Why Use Spanish Frequency Dictionaries
- And One More Thing…
Best Spanish Frequency Dictionaries
1. “A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish”
This Spanish frequency dictionary by Mark Davies contains the 5,000 most commonly used words in the Spanish language, each with an English translation and a sample sentence.
Additionally, it includes several frequency lists that group common words by theme such as animals, family terms and weather. There’s even a vocabulary list of new words since the 1800s!
The introduction gives lots of advice on how to best use a frequency dictionary. There are study hints and even explanations about how people learn languages.
This resource is useful for any learner who’s trying to focus their study on a particular area of vocabulary, as it’s already been organized by thematic group.
2. “Spanish Key Words”
“Spanish Key Words” by Pedro Casal is a basic dictionary that contains the 2,000 most frequently used Spanish words. It’s designed to help readers learn Spanish quickly and easily!
The vocabulary’s divided into 100 units and each unit contains 20 words, placing frequently used words into manageable, simple-to-learn vocabulary lists.
Every verb is presented in its infinitive version alongside the present tense conjugations. That way, you not only study the individual words but start learning how to actually use them.
According to the book, the first 500 words are 75% of typical conversational vocabulary. By mastering this small set of core vocabulary, you should be able to communicate with ease!
3. “Spanish-English Frequency Dictionary”
This dictionary from J.L. Laide highlights the 2,500 most-used words and 468 most common verbs.
The book is a great tool for getting a large base vocabulary. It offers example sentences and parts of speech for each word so that learners can see vocabulary in context.
This resource also aids learners with their Spanish pronunciation by providing phonetic alphabet translations for the entries.
You can get this dictionary as a download or a physical book.
4. “2,000 Most Common Spanish Words in Context”
This book, by Lingo Mastery, is more than a frequency dictionary.
It provides some instruction and advice on how to improve your language learning.
It also features 2,000 of the most common Spanish words, with an example sentence for each word so that learners can see the vocabulary used in context.
It’s important to note that variations and conjugations count as separate words, so words like “to go” and “went” are counted as two words. Despite this, the terms in this book range from monosyllabic words to longer words and even some phrases.
5. Free Frequency List by Neri
Want the same thing as the book above, but in an even more convenient format and absolutely free? You’ll find it here.
This is a vocabulary list of 8,600 words with definitions, put together by the same author as the previous entry on this list.
There are no example sentences to show learners the words in context but the the list page does contain helpful hints for getting deeper meanings.
Here, too, specific conjugations of verbs make it onto the list, so you might find various versions of the same verb more than once. To avoid this issue, you can view the same list with all the verbs removed, for a total of 3,700 truly individual action words.
6. 5,000 Most Frequent Spanish Words on Memrise
Memrise provides 50 lists that showcase the 5,000 most frequently used Spanish words. The lists are ordered from most to least frequently used.
Each list is 100 words long and every word comes with a translation, the part of speech and pronunciation audio, making this a super resource for building a core vocabulary. Even beginners will recognize the words on the first list!
Memrise will even help you remember the words through its SRS (Spaced Repetition System), going through them at various frequencies until you remember them all, then occasionally bringing known words back up for a surprise visit to make sure you still know them.
Each word comes with user-created mnemonics to help you remember it. But you can also make your own memory flashcards help you associate words a fun image or a pun so you can remember them better.
7. Easy Ten App
The Easy Ten app introduces language learners to 10 new words each day.
So if you use the app every day for a full year, you’ll have a vocabulary of 3,650 words!
It’s estimated that a native speaker uses an average of 3,000 words in their everyday communication. This app is designed to get you to that level in a year.
There’s also a frequency vocabulary of the 10,000 most commonly used words. All words show examples and pronunciation.
This app has a seven-day free trial period. After that, it’s available by subscription.
How to Use Spanish Frequency Dictionaries
So you’ve scoured the list and think that all these options sound dandy. But how should you actually go about using a frequency dictionary?
The best way to study with a frequency dictionary is to add it to your language learning routine, the way you would with any other language resource.
Here are a few ideas:
- Schedule time to study the core vocabulary. Build vocabulary lists or make flashcards with the words in a frequency dictionary. Use the dictionary for working with crossword puzzles or to help with vocabulary worksheets.
- See the words “in action” so that you can learn how to use them in different contexts. This can be easily done by consuming and studying with authentic Spanish media. An example is the video library on the FluentU language learning program, where each clip comes with interactive learning tools.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
- Get comfortable with the words and phrases that make up the most essential parts of the Spanish language. Write them down, say them out loud, use them in conversations and generally make them a part of your active Spanish vocabulary.
- If you’re feeling confident, use the frequency dictionary as a resource to begin or elevate your Spanish writing practice. Choose a certain number of words from the frequency dictionary and write a poem, letter or story using those words as focal points.
Why Use Spanish Frequency Dictionaries
All four aspects of language learning—speaking, writing, reading and listening—are dependent on vocabulary.
The Spanish language is comprised of approximately 150,000 words. That’s a lot of words!
But you don’t have to know them all. In fact, knowing just 5-7% of a language’s vocabulary lets you understand about 90-95% of it.
That means if you understand between 7,500 and 10,500 Spanish words, you’re probably doing pretty well with the four components of language learning.
A frequency dictionary gathers the most-used words in Spanish all in one place—and all ready to be learned and used. If you get comfortable with them, you’ll be able to breeze through your Spanish conversations without worry!
Spanish frequency dictionaries will help you learn tons of essential vocabulary and become familiar with the most common words.
These useful resources will help you speak like a native in no time!
And One More Thing…
If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)