280 Basic English Words You Should Know


Here is a very simple, yet attractive, list of basic English words. I hope you can start using them soon, if you’re not already!

Basic English Words


280 Basic English Words You Should Know

1. account – an arrangement with a bank to keep your money there and allow you to take it out when you need to.

2. air – the mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth and that we breathe.

3. amount – a collection or mass, especially of something that cannot be counted.

4. animal – something that lives and moves, but is not a human, bird, insect or fish.

5. answer – the receipt and response to a letter, question or phone call.

animal-tiger-siberian

6. approval – the feeling of having a positive opinion of someone or something.

7. art – the activity of making objects, drawings, music, paintings, sculptures etc that are beautiful or that express feelings.

8. attack – to try to hurt or defeat (mainly referred to physical violence but can also be used to describe verbal or emotional outbursts).

9. attention – notice, thought or interest.

10. back – (adverb) in return, into, towards a previous place or condition, or an earlier time; (noun) the part of your body that is opposite to the front, from your shoulder to your bottom.

11. base – the bottom part of an object, on which it rests, or the lowest part of something.

12. behavior – the way that someone behaves.

13. belief – the feeling of being certain that something exists or is true, something that you believe.

14. birth – the time when a young baby, or young animal comes out of its mother’s body.

15. blood – the red liquid that is sent around the body by the heart.

16. blow – to move and make currents of air, or to make a sound by forcing air out of your mouth.

17. body – the whole physical structure that forms a person or animal.

18. bread – a food made from flour, water and usually yeast, mixed together and baked.

19. breath – the air that goes into and out of your lungs.

20. brother – a man or boy with the same parents as another person.

21. building – a structure with walls and a roof, such as a house or a factory.

22. burn – to be hurt, damaged or destroyed by fire or extreme heat, or to cause this to happen.

23. business – the activity of buying and selling goods and services.

24. butter – a pale yellow food containing a lot of fat that is made from cream, usually spread on bread or used in cooking.

25. care – the process of protecting someone or something, and providing what they need.

26. cause – the reason why something, especially something bad, happens.

27. chance – an occasion that allows something to be done.

28. change – to exchange one thing for another thing, or to make or become different.

29. cloth – a type of woven material, usually used in cleaning to remove dirt, dust or liquid.

30. color/colour – red, blue, green, yellow, red, orange etc.

Color-Pencils

31. comfort – a pleasant feeling of being relaxed and free from pain.

32. company – an organization that sells goods or services in order to make money.

33. comparison – the act of comparing two or more people or things.

34. competition – a situation in which someone is trying to win something or be more successful than someone else.

35. connection – the state of being related to someone or something.

36. cook – (verb) when you prepare food to be eaten by heating it until it is ready, or (noun) a person who prepares and cooks food.

37. country – an area of land that has its own government, army etc.

38. cover – to put or spread something over something, or to lie on the surface of something.

39. credit – praise, approval or honour.

40. cry – to produce tears as the result of a strong emotion, such as sadness, fear, happiness or pain.

41. current – of the present time.

42. damage – to harm or spoil something.

43. danger – the possibility of harm or death to someone.

44. daughter – your female child.

45. day – a period of 24 hours.

46. death – the end of life.

47. decision – a choice that you make about something after thinking about all the possible options.

48. detail – a single piece of information or fact about something.

49. development – the process in which someone or something grows or changes and becomes more advanced.

50. direction – the position towards which someone or something moves or faces.

51. discovery – the process of finding information, a place or an object, especially for the first time.

52. discussion – the activity in which people talk about something and tell each other their ideas or opinions.

53. disease – an illness of people, animals or plants caused by infection or a lack of health.

54. distance – the amount of space between two places.

55. doubt – (a feeling of) not being certain about something, especially how good or true it is.

56. drink – (noun) liquid that is taken into the body through the mouth, or (verb) to take liquid into the body through the mouth.

drink

57. driving – the ability to drive a car, the activity of driving, or the way someone drives.

58. dust – dry dirt in the form of powder that covers surfaces inside a building, or very small dry pieces of soil etc.

59. earth – our planet, the third in order from the sun, between Venus and Mars, the world on which we live. Also another term for soil on the ground.

60. education – the process of teaching or learning in a school or college, or the knowledge that you get from this.

61. effect – the result of a particular influence.

62. end – the part of a place or thing that is the furthest away from the start, or the final part of something such as a period of time, activity or story.

63. error – a mistake.

64. example – a way of helping someone to understand something by showing them how it is used.

65. experience – (the process of getting) knowledge or skill from doing, seeing or feeling things, or something that happens to you which affects how you feel.

66. expert – a person with a high level of knowledge or skill relating to a particular subject or activity.

67. fact – something that is known to have happened or to exist, especially something for which proof exists.

68. fall – to suddenly go down onto the ground or towards the ground without intending to, or by accident.

69. family – a group of people who are related to each other such as a mother, father and their children.

70. father – a male parent.

71. fear – an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are worried or frightened by something dangerous, painful or bad that is happening or may happen.

72. feeling – the fact of feeling something physical, or an emotion.

73. fire – the state of burning that produces flames that send out heat and light, and might produce smoke.

74. flight – a journey in an aircraft.

75. flower – the part of a plant that is often brightly coloured and has a pleasant smell.

76. food – something that people and animals eat or plants absorb, to keep them alive.

77. friend – a person who you know well and like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family.

78. front – the part of a person’s body, building or object that faces forward, or is most often seen or used.

79. fruit – the soft part containing seeds that is produced by a plant. Many types of fruit are sweet and can be eaten.

80. glass – a hard transparent material used to make windows bottles and other objects.

81. gold – a chemical element that is a valuable, shiny, yellow metal used to make coins and jewellery.

82. government – the group of people that officially control a country.

83. grain – a seed or seeds from a plant, especially a plant like a grass such as rice or wheat.

84. grass – a low, green plant that grows naturally from soil on the Earth’s surface.

85. growth – the growth of a person, animal or plant is its process of increasing in size.

86. guide – written information or a person that gives you the history of, or most important facts about, a particular or subject.

87. harbor/harbour – an area of water next to the coast, often protected from the sea by a thick wall, where ships and boats can shelter.

88. hate – to dislike someone or something very much.

89. hearing – the ability to hear, or an official meeting that is held to collect the facts about an event or problem.

90. heat – the quality of being hot or warm, or the temperature of something.

91. help – to make it possible or easier for someone to do something, by doing part of the work yourself.

92. history – (the study or record of) past events considered together, especially events of a particular period, country or subject.

93. hole – an empty space in an object, usually with an opening to the object’s surface, or an opening that goes completely through an object.

94. hope – to want something to happen or to be true, and usually have a good reason to think that it might.

95. hour – a period of 60 minutes.

96. ice – water that has frozen and become solid, or pieces of this.

ice

97. idea – a suggestion or plan for doing something.

98. increase – to (make something) become larger in amount or size.

99. industry – the companies and activities involved in the process of producing goods for sale, especially in a factory or special area.

100. instrument – an object such as a guitar or drum that is played to produce musical sounds.

101. insurance – an agreement in which you pay a company money and they pay your costs if you have an accident or injury.

102. interest – the feeling of wanting to give your attention to something or someone, or wanting to be involved with and to discover more about something.

103. iron – a chemical element that is a common greyish-coloured metal. It is strong, used in making steel, and exists in very small amounts in blood.

104. join – to connect or fasten things together.

105. journey – the act of travelling from one place to another, especially in a vehicle.

106. jump – to push yourself suddenly off the ground and into the air using your legs.

107. kick – to hit someone or something with the foot, or to move the feet and legs suddenly and violently.

108. kiss – to touch another person’s cheek or hand with your lips, especially as a greeting, or to press your mouth onto another person’s mouth in a sexual way.

109. knowledge – understanding of, or information about, a subject that you get by experience or study.

110. land – the surface of the Earth that is not covered by water.

111. language – a system of communication consisting of sounds, words and grammar.

112. laugh – to smile when making sounds with your voice that show you think something is funny or that you are happy.

113. low – not measuring much from the base to the top, close to the ground or the bottom of something.

114. lead – to control a group of people, a country or situation.

115. learning – the activity of obtaining knowledge, or knowledge obtained by study.

116. letter – a written message from one person to another, usually put in an envelope and sent by post.

117. level – the height of something, or the amount or number of something.

118. light – the brightness that comes from the sun, fire and some electrical devices, and that allows things to be seen.

119. limit – the greatest amount, number or level of something that is either possible or allowed.

120. liquid – a substance, such as water, that is not solid or a gas and that can be poured easily.

Read more:
What Happens if You Don’t Drink Enough Water Daily? [Video]

121. look – to direct your eyes in order to see.

122. loss – the fact that you no longer have something, or have less of something.

123. love – to like another adult very much and be romantically and sexually attracted to them, or to have strong feelings of liking a friend or person in your family in a non-sexual way.

love

124. machine – a piece of equipment with several moving parts that uses power to do a particular type of work.

125. man – an adult male human being.

126. market – the people who might want to buy something, or a part of the world where something is sold, or the business or trade in a particular product.

127. mass – (adjective) having an effect on or involving a large number of people, or forming a large amount. (noun) a large amount of something that has no particular shape or arrangement.

128. meal – an occasion when food is eaten, or the food that is eaten on such an occasion.

129. measure – to discover the exact size or amount of something, or to be of a particular size.

130. meat – the flesh of an animal when it is used for food.

131. meeting – an occasion when people come together intentionally, usually in a formal/business sense.

132. memory – the ability to remember information, experiences and people.

133. middle – the central point, position or part.

134. milk – the white liquid produced by cows, goats, sheep, and used by humans as a drink or for making butter and cheese.

135. mind – the part of a person that makes it possible for him or her to think, feel emotions and understand things.

136. mine – the one(s) belonging to or connected with me (the speaker).

137. minute – one of the 60 parts that an hour is divided into, consisting of 60 seconds.

138. mist – thin fog produced by very small drops of water collecting in the air just above an area of ground or water.

139. money – coins or notes that are used to buy things, or the amount of these that one person has.

140. month – a period of about 4 weeks, especially one of the 12 periods into which a year is divided.

141. morning – the part of the day from the time the sun rises or you wake up, until the middle of the day or lunch time.

142. mother – a female parent.

143. mountain – a raised part of the Earth’s surface, much larger than a hill.

144. move – to (cause to) change position.

145. music – a pattern of sounds made by musical instruments, voices or computers, intended to give pleasure to people listening to it.

146. name – the word or words that a person, thing or place is known by.

147. nation – a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.

148. need – the urge to have something, or want something very much.

149. news – information or reports about recent events.

150. night – the part of every 24-hour period when it is dark, because there is very little light from the sun.

151. noise – a sound or sounds, especially when it is unwanted, unpleasant or loud.

152. number – a unit that forms part of the system of counting or calculating.

153. offer – to ask someone if they would like to have something, or they would like you to do something.

154. oil – a thick liquid that comes from petroleum, used as a fuel, and for making parts of machines move easily.

155. opinion – a thought, belief or judgement about someone or something.

156. order – a request to make, supply or deliver food or goods.

157. organization – a group of people who work together in an organized way for a shared purpose.

158. owner – someone who owns something.

159. page – a side of one of the pieces of paper in a book, magazine or newspaper.

160. pain – a feeling of physical, emotional or mental suffering.

161. paint – a coloured liquid that is put on a surface, such as a wall, to decorate it.

162. paper – thin, flat material made from crushed wood or cloth, used for writing, printing or drawing on.

163. part – some, but not all of a thing.

164. paste – a think, soft, sticky substance made by crushing or mixing things such as fish, fruit or vegetables for food, or a liquid with powder for glue.

165. payment – an amount of money paid or the process of giving money owed to another.

payment with credit card

166. peace – free from war and violence, especially when people live and work together happily, without disagreements.

167. person – a man, woman or child.

168. place – an area, town or building.

169. plant – a living thing that grows in earth, or water, usually has a stem, leaves and roots, and produces seeds.

170. play – spending time doing an enjoyable and/or entertaining activity.

171. pleasure – enjoyment, happiness and satisfaction, or something that gives this.

172. position – the place where something or someone is, often in relation to other things.

173. power – ability to control people and events.

174. price – the amount of money for which something is sold.

175. process – a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result.

176. produce – (verb) to make something or bring something into existence. (noun) food or any other substance that is grown or obtained through farming.

177. profit – money that is earned in trade or business, after paying any costs related to producing selling goods.

178. property – an object/objects, building or land that belong to someone.

179. pull – to move something towards yourself, sometimes with great physical effort.

180. punishment – the act of punishing someone.

181. purpose – why you do something, or why something exists.

182. push – to use physical pressure or force, especially with your hands, in order to move something into a position that is further away from you.

183. quality – how good or bad something is.

184. question – a sentence or phrase used to find out information.

185. rain – drops of water from clouds.

186. reaction – behaviour, a feeling or an action that is the direct result of something.

187. reading – the skill or activity of getting information from books.

188. reason – the cause of an event or situation, something that provides an excuse or explanation.

189. record – (verb) to store sounds or moving pictures using electronic equipment. (noun) the best or fastest ever done. (noun) a flat plastic disc on which music is recorded.

190. regret – a feeling of sadness about something sad or wrong, or about a mistake that you have made.

191. relation – the way in which two people or groups of people feel and behave towards each other.

192. religion – the belief in, and worship of, a god or gods.

193. request – the act of politely or officially asking for something.

194. respect – admiration felt or shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities.

195. rest – to stop doing a particular activity in order to relax and regain your strength.

196. reward – something given in exchange for good behaviour or good work.

197. rice – the small seeds of a particular type of grass, cooked and eaten as food.

rice

198. river – a natural wide flow of fresh water across the land into the sea, a lake or another river.

199. road – a long hard man-made surface built for vehicles to travel along.

200. room – a part of the inside of a building that is separated from other parts by walls, floor and ceiling.

201. rule – a principle or instruction that states the way things are and how they should be done, and tells you what you are and aren’t allowed to do.

202. run – to move along, faster than walking, by taking quick steps.

203. salt – a common white substance found in sea water and in the ground, used especially to flavour food or to preserve it.

204. sand – a substance that consists of very small grains of rock, found on beaches and deserts.

205. sea – the salty water that covers a large surface of the Earth.

206. seat – a piece of furniture in a building or vehicle, that has been designed for someone to sit on.

207. secretary – someone who works in an office, writing letters, making phone calls and arranging meetings.

208. selection – the act of choosing someone or something.

209. sense – an ability to understand, recognize, value, or react to something, especially any of the five abilities to see, hear, smell, feel and taste.

210. shade – slight darkness caused by something blocking the direct light from the sun.

211. shake – to move or make something or someone move, backwards and forwards or up and down in short quick movements.

212. shame – an uncomfortable feeling of guilt or of being ashamed, because of your own or someone else’s bad behaviour.

213. shock – the emotional or physical reaction to a sudden unexpected and usually unpleasant event or experience.

214. side – a flat outer surface of an object, especially one that is not the top, bottom, the front nor the back.

215. sign – to write your name, usually on a written or printed document, to show that you agree with its contents.

216. silver – a chemical element that is a valuable shiny white metal, used for making cutlery, jewellery, coins or decorative objects.

217. sister – a girl or woman who has the same parents as another person.

218. size – how large or small someone or something is.

219. sky – the area above the earth, in which clouds, the sun, moon and stars can be seen.

220. sleep – the resting state in which the body is not active and the mind is unconscious.

221. slip – to slide without intending to, or to move out of the correct position.

222. smash – to cause something to break noisily into a lot of small pieces.

223. smell – to have a particular quality that others can notice with their noses.

224. smile – a happy or friendly expression on the face in which the ends of the mouth curve up slightly, often with lips parted so that teeth can be seen.

225. smoke – the mixture of gas and very small pieces of carbon that is produced when something burns.

226. sneeze – when you sneeze, air and often small drops of liquid suddenly come out of your mouth and nose in a way that you cannot control.

227. snow – the small soft, white pieces of ice that sometimes fall from the sky when it is extremely cold.

228. soap – a substance used for washing the body, that is usually hard, often has a pleasant smell and produces a mass of bubbles when rubbed with water.

229. society – a large group of people who live together in an organized way. All the people in a country, or in several similar countries, could be referred to as a society.

230. son – someone’s male child.

231. song – a usually short piece of music where words are sung.

232. sort – (noun) a group of things that are of the same type, or that share similar qualities. (verb) to put a number of things in an order, or to separate them into groups.

233. sound – something that you can hear or that can be heard.

234. soup – a usually hot liquid food made from meat, vegetables or fish.

235. space – an empty area that is available to be used. The area around everything that exists, continuing in all directions.

236. start – to begin doing something.

237. step – to move by lifting your foot, and putting it down in a different place, or to put your foot in or on something.

238. stone – a piece of the hard solid substance that is found in the ground, and that is often used for building.

239. stop – to not continue to operate, to not move anymore, or to make someone or something not move anymore.

240. story – a description either true or imagined, of a connected series of events.

241. structure – the way in which the parts of a system or object are arranged or organized, or a system arranged in this way.

242. sugar – a sweet substance especially from the plants sugar cane and sugar beet, used to make food and drinks sweet.

243. suggestion – an idea, plan or action that is suggested, or the act of suggesting it.

244. summer – the season of the year between spring and autumn when the weather is the warmest, lasting from June to September in the UK.

245. surprise – an unexpected event.

246. swim – to move through water by moving parts of your body.

247. talk – to say words aloud; to speak to someone.

248. taste – the flavour of something, or the ability of a person or animal to recognize different flavours.

249. tax – money paid to the government that is based on your income or the cost of goods or services you have bought.

250. teaching – the job of being a teacher; the role/act of educating another person in any particular subject.

251. thing – used to refer in an approximate way to an object or to avoid naming it.

252. thought – the act of thinking about or considering something, an idea or opinion, or a set of ideas about a particular subject.

253. time – the part of existence that is measured in minutes, days or years, or this process considered as a whole.

254. touch – to put your hand or another part of your body lightly onto and off something or someone.

255. trade – the activity of buying and selling or exchanging goods and/or services between people or countries.

256. transport – the movement of people or goods from one place to another.

257. trouble – problems or difficulties, or a negative characteristic of someone.

258. turn – to (cause to) move in a circle round a fixed point or line.

259. use – to put something such as a tool, skill or building to a particular purpose.

260. value – the amount of money that can be received for something.

261. view – an opinion, belief or idea, or a way of thinking about something; what someone can see in their peripheral vision.

262. voice – the sounds that are made when people speak or sing.

263. walk – to move along by putting one foot in front of the other.

264. war – armed fighting between two or more countries or groups, or a particular example of this.

265. wash – to clean something using water and usually soap.

266. waste – an unnecessary or wrong use of things such as money, substances, time, energy or abilities.

267. water – a clear liquid, without colour or taste, that falls from the sky as rain, and is necessary for animal and plant life.

water and fish

268. way – a route, direction or path.

269. weather – the conditions in the air above the earth such as wind, rain or temperature, especially at a particular time or over a particular area.

270. week – a period of seven days, usually from Monday to Sunday.

271. weight – the amount that someone or something weighs.

272. wind – a current of air moving approximately horizontally, especially one strong enough to be felt.

273. wine – an alcoholic drink generally made from grapes but that can also be made from other fruits or flowers.

274. winter – the season between autumn and spring, when the weather is the coldest.

275. woman – an adult female human being.

276. wood – a hard substance that forms the branches and trunks of trees and can be used as a building material, for making things, or as a fuel.

277. word – a single unit of language that has meaning and can be spoken or written.

278. work – an activity, such as a job, that a person uses physical or mental effort to do, usually for money.

279. writing – a person’s style of writing with a pen on paper that can be recognized as their own.

280. year – a period of twelve months.

 

If you are already familiar with most of the above words, then you can also click on one of the links below for further suggestions:

At The Doctor
Vocabulary For IELTS Speaking Exam
Kitchen Tools
Trucks List
Phrases On The Phone
Vocabulary For IT Professionals
Polite Expressions


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Written by: Anastasia Koltai

Founder of MyEnglishTeacher.eu. Ana is a fan of giving away free and useful materials both for English learners and teachers. In her free time she loves biking and playing with her dog.