October 04, 2017

Top 150 most useful frequent nouns

The following is the list of the top 150 most frequent, most common and most useful nouns to learn when learning a foreign language and its Italian translation.

It is based on about 5 different vocabulary frequency lists and my personal word lists which contain words that were occurring organically when I was learning languages from scratch or improving the languages I knew (Persian, Serbian, Polish, Cantonese, Spanish, Hungarian, French). This list contains only the most important nouns from all of these lists, that give you most language coverage, re-arranged so that they would roughly be ordered from the most useful, most general ones downwards.

I also worked on English, Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian, Portuguese, German, Mandarin Chinese (simplified and traditional), Russian (Cyrillic and Latin), Slovak, Hungarian and a Romance combo noun frequency list.




English
Italian
thing, matter
cosa (f)
place
posto (m)
experience
esperienza (f)
situation
situazione (f)
idea
idea (f)
plan
piano (m)
result
risultato (m)
goal
obiettivo (m)
problem
problema (m)
meaning
significato (m)
example
esempio (m)
expression
espressione (f)
question
questione (f), domanda (f)
reason
motivo (m), ragione (f)
feeling
sensazione (f)
building 
edificio (m)
person
persona (f)
word
parola (f)
money
i soldi
life
vita (f)
food
cibo (m)
foreigner
straniero (m)
job
lavoro (m)
majority
maggioranza (f)
personality
personalità (f)
rule, law
regola (f)
room
camera (f)
opinion
opinione (f)
detail
dettaglio (m)
mistake
errore (m)
home
casa (f)
world
mondo (m)
friend
amico (m)
family
famiglia (f)
fault
colpa (f)
country
paese (m)
fact
fatto (m)
interest
interesse (m)
woman
donna (f)
man
uomo (m)
university
università (f)
motivation
motivazione (f)
present, gift
regalo (m)
memory
memoria (f)
talent
talento (m)
crowd
folla (f)
sound
suono (m)
picture
immagine (f)
decision
decisione (f)
water
acqua (f)
today
oggi
tomorrow
domani
yesterday
ieri
accent 
accento (m)
beginning
inizio (m)
student
studente (m)
relation
legame (m)
injury
ferita (f)
doctor
medico (m)
bed
letto (m)
conflict
conflitto (m)
rain
pioggia (f)
topic
argomento (m)
dream
sogno (m)
mood
umore (m)
lesson
lezione (f)
society
società (f)
border
frontiera (f), confine (m)
minority
minoranza (f)
exam
esame (m)
dictionary
dizionario (m)
creativity
creatività (f)
ocean
oceano (m)
competition
competizione (f)
contract
contratto (m)
government
governo (m)
clothes
i vestiti 
(makes) sense
(ha) senso
rest
riposo (m)
night
notte (f)
morning
mattina (f)
name
nome (m)
hand
mano (f)
body
corpo (m)
language
lingua (f)
explanation
spiegazione (f)
minute
minuto (m)
truth
verità (f)
end
fine (f)
center
centro (m)
day
giorno (m)
opportunity
opportunità (f)
ability
capacità (f)
time
tempo (m)
age
età (f)
city
città (f)
sentence
frase (f)
lunch
pranzo (m)
communication
comunicazione (f)
street, road
strada (f)
window
finestra (f)
market
mercato (m)
boyfriend/girlfriend
fidanzato (m), fidanzata (f)
house
casa (f)
door
porta (f)
girl
ragazza (f)
child
bambino (m)
difference
differenza (f)
teacher
insegnante (m)/(f)
history
storia (f)
way (of doing sth.)
modo (di fare qc.)
weather
tempo (m)
change
cambiamento (m)
year
anno (m)
music
musica (f)
car
macchina  (f)
internet
internet (m)
nature
natura (f)
temperature
temperatura (f)
area, field
area (f)
story
storia (f)
quality
qualità (f)
power
potere (m)
week
settimana (f)
price
prezzo (m)
process
processo (m)
direction
direzione (f)
strategy
strategia (f)
technology
tecnologia (f)
environment
ambiente (m)
month
mese (m)
position
posizione (f)
development
sviluppo (m)
income
reddito (m)
marriage
matrimonio (m)
illness
malattia (f)
(I don’t have) energy
(non ho) energia
technique
tecnica (f)
bus
autobus (m)
subway
metropolitana (f)
airplane
aereo (m)
book
libro (m)
school
scuola (f)
company
azienda (f)
eyes
gli occhi
news
le notizie
health
salute (f)
system
sistema (m)
community
comunità (f)
police
polizia (f)

Additional information

I know how to learn languages well from the intermediate level and onward, but I have a very big problem starting, which I think might be a problem for most people as well. In my opinion, the main reason for this difficulty is the complete lack of vocabulary when you are starting out on your language learning journey—you don’t have the most basic building blocks to say or understand anything.

I had the idea to pre-learn a lot of words to bypass this problem, but the question was always which words to learn. When I was learning Turkish (a distant language from the languages I speak with a relatively low number of cognates), I realized the easiest words to learn were concrete, tangible nouns (house, apple etc.) because I could visualize them very well in my mind. There are much more useful words/expressions of course (because, to have, to be, even though, if, I, you etc.) but they hold a lot more information and are more difficult to remember and relate to for a complete beginner.

Although I am a big proponent of learning things with context, the painstakingly long time it takes to get to a point where you are able to start having conversations and learn the language "by using" is really something that should be improved. The idea thus is to pre-learn smart-vocabulary with no context with memory techniques, to give you more speech building blocks at your disposal whether to help you start speaking or understanding.

I first had the idea of producing a list of high-frequency, useful tangible nouns which I would pre-learn with memory techniques but when I started compiling the list, it turned out to be surprisingly short (it consisted of only about 25 nouns!) so I decided to compile a list of all nouns I would consider useful.

The task turned out to be quite challenging, because it wasn't a simple matter of taking the 5 or 6 most respected frequency lists and merging them together. I had to literally handpick every noun based on my experience and common sense using my own frequency studies and word lists as a basis and frequency lists only as an additional guideline.

I will also work on a similar verb list, expressions list and a list of all other high frequency useful words. My plan is also to eventually create a monologue or a very contextual short story made of these words that a student could listen to over and over, or learn by heart if need be, which would serve as a nice way to pre-mass-learn vocabulary to get a student started and enable him or her to start speaking the language as soon as possible.

2 comments:

  1. Hello!
    Thank you for sharing this list! I found it really interesting.
    One thing I realised this year is that the vocabulary you learn at the beggining may affect one's whole learning process.
    I started learning italian this summer, two weeks before my holiday in Italy, only to check how much can I learn in two weeks and would I be able to communicate anyhow. I learned very basic and concrete vocabulary, at least so did I thought. When I finally arrived there, I realised that what I really need to communicate is extremely basic, mundane even, vocabulary like "road" or "money". Theoretically, it is that simple, but as a former ethnolinguistics student, I always started learning from whole group of vocabulary, e.g. when I was learning about family, I learnt also words for stepsister, greatgrandparant etc. And then I found myself knowing a whole bunch of diversified vocabulary, but still I wasn't able to communicate easily. With italian for the second time (after Czech) and started from imagining the daily SITIUATIONS and vocabulary that I would need to use. And, I don't want to jinx it, but it is going better than ever :) Better late than ever hahaha
    I'd love to see more of your work!
    Monika

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    Replies
    1. Hello and thank you for the comment:) I'm glad you found the list interesting. A long time ago, I made a video about learning 'useless' words. Here's the link if you like: https://youtu.be/CRUhPpQBuJw

      Have a nice day,

      Vladimir

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