44000 known words?

I was recently in contact with someone who said he has been studying Russian for three years and I saw that his known word count was over 44,000. I have been studying for a year and a half and I am only at around 1,900 known words. Should I quit now?

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Different people use different criteria for known words. No reason to quit.

@CHR, do you “x” out a lot of words?

Our system of known words in Lingq is very far from the perfection.
It indicates only that you or somebody else met these words in the lessons and podcasts that he\she read or listened via Lingq.
But it doesn’t indicate that he\she knows these words.
To know words really you have to repeate them many times, but the most of us too lazy to do it or they consider that it’s very boring (and it’s sometimes really). THat’s why they remember only the words that are often repeating in the texts.
So the man which word count may be over 44,000 words perhaps knows actually only 1,000.
Moreover, Russian words are very flexible, so every word can have at least 6 forms depending on the case.
THat’s why you can go ahead without paying attention to the wrong word count.
Good luck in Russian!

Someone hey ? : )

Don’t quit! I’m pretty liberal in tagging words as “known” And bear in mind that they are mostly only passive reading words. A huge majority I can’t use actively, and I would have a lot of trouble recognising in a spoken form.

If I recognise it in context when reading, it goes to “known”. If I’ve never seen it before, but it turns out to have a really obvious derivation once I look it up, it goes to “known”. Also; and I don’t do this so much there days, but I used to tag every form of every noun and adjective, which in Russian as you know adds up to a lot of different versions of essentially the same word. My actual known words excluding all the declined forms could be around 7000. Again, most of these are passive.

I still don’t understand films or TV, or full speed natives, or conversations on any topic I’m unfamiliar with (which is just about everything). So no, don’t judge your own progress harshly after 18 months, don’t quit. Any language where most of the vocab is totally different and unrelated to english is a long path.

I only use the word count as a rough gauge that I’m making progress in generally the right direction.

It gets easier as you progress to add new known words. In German, with a little hard work, I could add 1000 words to my known word score in a day. This does not mean that I have learned 1000 words in that day.

I believe I had a day where I added 10,000 words to get from around 20,000, to around 30,000. No I did not learn all of them that day. If I spend another entire day on lingq I am pretty sure I could do the same.

Why I think this is:

  1. French vocab looks like English vocab
  2. I do a lot of input elsewhere
  3. French has a ton of contractions

Are you sure you only have 1900 words? Maybe if you started figuring in inflections that would be around 10,000, or even more.

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Wow. 10,000 is a lot. What did you do that day?

I read two 600 page novels and ate lots of ramen noodles.


I’m very skeptical about even more than 100 ‘known words’ a day.
THey are not ‘known words’, they are JUST only words that you ran across in the texts.
You have to encounter 5-7 times the same words to tell that they are ‘known words’ for you now.
This is a very big difference!

I really don’t like the “5-7 views to learn a world” rule. I hear it all the time, and it’s just silly. If it were true I could make a flash card, then look at it 7 times and know the word.

You learn a word when you learn it. It would require some pretty brilliant math to quantify a concrete idea of time required for word learning.



My first two questions to you are; 1) Are you enjoying your Russian? 2) When you start a new lesson, can you read the text much more easily than before?

You have created over 50,000 LingQs. That is great. That means that you have read, and probably listened to, a lot of Russian. This means that you are learning the language.

You need to click on “Move Remaining Words to Known Words List” when you finish LingQing a lesson. You apparently are not doing this. This is very important. It tells the system which words you already know. This not only gives you your “Known Words” count, but also enables the “New Words” count in new lessons.

There are several possible definitions of “knowing words”, but at LingQ it simply means that you understand them passively in a given context. LingQ is based on the idea that lots of input, reading and listening, will build up your comprehension skills, and form a base for developing your speaking and writing skills. That is why passive vocabulary is so important. It equates to good comprehension. When you speak a foreign language, you need to have a much larger passive vocabulary than active vocabulary, since the native speaker knows and uses many more words than you can use. So focus on growing your passive vocabulary.

Your "Known Words’ is important as an indicator of your growing passive vocabulary. You probably know many more words than your statistics show. I suspect it is over 20,000 the way we count at LingQ, and perhaps more. You need to start clicking on “Move Remaining Blue Words to Kown”.

In Romanian I have roughly 20,000 “known words” and 10,000 “LingQs Created”. If I import a new article from a newspaper, there will be about 10-15% “new words” for me. Some of these are names, which I “ignore” by hitting X on my keyboard. Many will be identifiable from Italian or French. Many will be forms of words I already know. So I will only “LingQ” a few of them, and then “Move the Remaining Blue Words to Known”.

In my Czech and Russian, which I have been studying for much longer, the Known Words count and LingQs Created number is much higher. There, when I start a new lesson , my “new words” count will be 5-10% or so. There wil be many forms of words I already know, but far fewer words that I can guess based on my knowledge of other words. My “Known Words” total in these languages grows more slowly than in Romanian where 70% of the words are identifiable from languages I alread know.

Evgueny is a great contributor to LingQ and an experienced and excellent teacher. He has his methods and approaches which do not always match the way we do things at LingQ, and that is fine with me. However, to say that the “known words” total “indicates only that you or somebody else met these words in the lessons and podcasts that he\she read or listened via Lingq.” is not true. As explained above the “Known Words” total means that you did not LingQ these words in a given text, and the system assumes that if you didn’t LingQ it, you understood it. You may miss some, but you can always LingQ them the next time you meet them.

To Evgueny knowing a word means being able to use it. That is another definition, a very common definition, but not the one we use at LingQ as explained above.

If someone has a statistic which says that they know 44,000 words, the probably can recognize most of these words when reading. If they import new content they will probably only encounter 10-15% new words, and therefore will be able to read newspaper without the computer, with only a few unknown words. Their active vocabulary will be smaller, but still quite large. It won’t be just 1,000 words, as Evgueny implied, especially if that learner has been engaged in conversations and writing.

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OK, anyway: the more you expose the new language, the better is.
But you can’t say: I know all these 400 or in your case 10000 words, even passively.
You can say only: I met them this day and maybe I remembered 100 of them, not more!


I was pretty clear, I think, that of those 10,000 words, there were really none that I had not come across before. I am pretty confident I can recognize those words any time I see them ever again.

I mark a word as known if I can guess its meaning before looking at the dictionary. If you look at my lingq count, you’ll see that I have very few. I make lingqs very rarely. I’d probably attribute this to French’s closeness to English, as well as a long-held passive familiarity with the language on my part (although I have only been studying it seriously for a matter of months). When I upload a book onto lingq, I’d say I lingq at most 10 percent of the blue words. My finger is on the “k” key more or less constantly.

When I start learning Spanish in August I expect to make a lot more lingqs.

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the “Should I quit now?” part was interesting. :smiley:

I’m not a good spokesuser, I find the actual learning content and words part of the site to be too static for my tastes. I would strongly recommend to look up the 10000 most frequent words used in x language. Write them out, it takes only about two full-size notebooks (sold in the US) if you are using only one word per-line on front and back pages. Define or translate the words. That’s already a solid base to move up to or past a B2 level.

Most language learners want to understand and to be understood in their target lanugage. If you are looking to read very advanced material like Steve Kaufmann in Russian or looking to become a professional interpreter, then it makes more sense to worry about your word count. For the majority of us, 10000 words is a more than solid base to increase opportunities to learn and double or triple this word count as you expose yourself to ‘real’ material, that comes with years of exposure. It’s not a rush for known words. It’s learning that’s customized for you and but also learning how to learn.

There are different stages of knowing words. the first stage, for ex; reading the word for the first time is like seeing a thumbnail photo of a new location you’ve never been before. The second stage is like a high quality picture, the third stage is like a video tour, the final stage is actually being actively there and now that word is 100% activated. There could be 100 small stages, there could be only 2 or 3, you have to determine that as an individual learner. Nearly 2000 known words is very good for that time period, you should be pleased.

Steve: There are several possible definitions of “knowing words”, but at LingQ it simply means that you understand them passively in a given context.

I think there is a lot of confusion for the average user, one context does not mean all contexts, and I think you understand how it works but the average user still finds this to be unexact.

I think judging what words your brain will passively remember tomorrow or in one week or in one month is difficult to determine for most of us.


Actually Steve, he has created over 100,000 LingQs.

@ CHR - If you are not pressing the “Move Remaining Words to Known Words List” button, then that explains why you have such a low number of words known on the website.

I don’t worry about what it means to ‘know’ a word. I have read these arguments and they have no meaning and distract people from the more important question, which is what is better, to try to learn every word such that you can use them, or to only worry about understanding these words?

@ djvlbass - I assume that Evgueny meant that on average you need to see words 6-7 times before you learn it. This does not mean that you learn every word on the 6th or 7th time. Some I learn first time I see them, and some I see hundreds of times and still have no idea what they mean. What the average is, I have no idea, but 6-7 sounds reasonable.

“I’m not a good spokesuser, I find the actual learning content and words part of the site to be too static for my tastes. I would strongly recommend to look up the 10000 most frequent words used in x language. Write them out, it takes only about two full-size notebooks (sold in the US) if you are using only one word per-line on front and back pages. Define or translate the words. That’s already a solid base to move up to or past a B2 level.”

Sounds like you would also say that children in elementary schools should get literate by copying the dictionary.

How is your method less static than that of lingq? Sitting at a desk writing out words for hours sounds pretty damn static to me. Reading about many interesting subjects sounds a lot better.


It’s better to say that everyone choses his own method which is the closest to his\her tastes and opportunities.
The comprehensible input is very important for all, but what about words - here there’re o lot of possibilities: you can just collect them from reading without paying attention to keeping them in the memory. In this case you can of course gather 10,000 and more words. Some of them you can remember but later when you meet them again and again
You can also learn all words, but it takes a lot of time. And not all words running accross the texts are really necessary for you.
I prefer the middle way: I lingq all words, but after that I assort them and pay attentionfirst of all to the most important (in my opinion); those words I can revise using Flashcards or at least Multiple choice.
And only after that I can say that I know them: partly passively, partly actively.

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This is a great discussion and gets to the heart of the LingQ system, and in a way, Krashen’s ideas about natural learning through meaningful input rather than deliberate studying.

I notice a misconception here about “Known Words”. “Known Words” are mostly words that you did not need to LingQ because you already understood them.

Any word that I am not familiar with, have any doubt about, I LingQ. Only after these have been learned, after I have flash carded them correctly twice, or manually moved them to Known, will they get added to the "Known Word "list. So I don’t understand Evgueny’s point. It is the LingQed words that I am trying to learn, not the Known Words. Most words in a language, most of my “Known Words” are learned incidentally, not through deliberately study. Most of my Known Words I never deliberately studied. The more saved words I learn, the more “Known Words” I pick up incidentally.

I doubt that most people can learn the most common xxxx number of words just from a list. Certainly I can’t. Trying to learn words by studying lists has never worked for me. These kind of activities put things into short term memory perhaps, but do not lead to long term retention. Seeing words in different contexts does. Seeing my yellow saved LingQs in different contexts helps me learn them. The more of these yellow saved words I learn through exposure, the more new words I can acquire incidentally, without trying.

As to the which words are important, that depends on what we are interested in. If we chose content of interest to us, we will naturally encounter the words that are most useful to us. The very high frequency words come up often and early.


I do not understand what a spokeuser is.

I doubt you can learn the most frequent 10,000 words from a list. I think that beyond the first few thousand words, the frequency of words will vary wildly with the nature of the content, i,e literature, versus history, versus science etc…

As to your statement that “Most language learners want to understand and to be understood in their target lanugage”, do you really think that this is different for me? In order to have meaningful communication in a language you need to understand lots of words. I don’t consider reading and listening to content we can find on the internet related to history and politics, or from podcasts, to be some obscure content, but rather the best way to develop a solid base of comprehension in a language.

The ability to use the language grows from a solid base in comprehension and a rich vocabulary. How much we use the language and when is a matter of choice and opportunity. Eventually we need to use it a lot, I agree. The bigger our passive vocabulary, the easier it will be to speak.


I suggest you go to the Vocabualry page at LingQ, and set the counter in the top right hand corner to 200. Then go through your saved LingQs, and manually tick the ones you know. You can’t do it all at one sitting, but you could do this over a period of a few days or more. You can even change the order from alphabetical, to order of importance, to status etc. Then you can batch move them to Known, or batch move them up on status level. This will quickly add words to your Known Words total. It is also a good review.

And from now on make sure you use “Move Remaining Blue Words to Known” button.