Here’s the deal. Wherever I go, people come up to me and ask, “Makya, of Makya McBee Vs., what are your favorite commonly used English words?” Okay…you caught me…that’s not actually true…I don’t go anywhere.
But I do have a list of my favorite common English words. Being semi-permanently, temporarily unemployed gives a man plenty of time to come up with an opinion on everything.
I started with a list of the 100 most commonly used English words, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Click here if you’d like to take a quiz trying to identify as many of these words as you can in twelve minutes (I managed 74 out of 100 – that may seem low, but the task is more difficult than it sounds…go ahead and try and tell me how many you get, smarty pants). The next step was…well, deciding which ones were the best. And that pretty much brings us up to date.
Remember, you won’t find any colorful words like lagoon, serendipity or quintessential here. Those words are fine for special occasions, but today we’re talking about the words that do the heavy lifting. The words that aren’t afraid of an honest day’s work. They may not be as fancy, but these are the words that make up the majority of what we read, write and say and they deserve our respect.
So, for all of you out there with your own, erroneous lists, I proudly present Makya McBee Vs. Other People’s Lists – Volume 4, The Ten Best Commonly Used English Words…brought to you by the OED (You down with OED? Yeah, you know me…)
The Top Ten Commonly Used English Words
(11) Now (The 73rd most common word serves the important purpose of reminding us to live in the moment. It’s a tricky thing, not living in the past or future – not as tricky as, say, living in a duffel bag or a friend’s oversized pocket, but still. This one might have been ranked higher if it were not also used by spoiled people to mean “immediately” as in, “I want to see my friend! Bring me my duffel bag now!”)
(10) Make (To bring into existence. That’s a pretty important part of being human. Whether it’s an excuse, a house, or a human being, we love making things)
(9) But (This, the 22nd most common, is a word of reason…a word of contrary opinions and possibilities…a word key to any rational discourse…and it sounds just like “butt”)
(8) Like (This is a great word for two reasons – as a verb, it allows us to demonstrate when we find something to be agreeable, as a preposition it’s perfect for drawing correlations and seeing the things in the world that connect us. And, bonus, you can use it as an interjection, “I have a friend who, like, totally lives in a duffel bag.”
(7) Be (“To be or not to be” gets a lot of credit as a philosophical question. Personally, I think the answer is pretty obvious. But without this word we don’t really have anything)
(6) Or (The 35th most common word, it’s key because it gives us options. Without or we’d have no choices in life. No reason to get up in the morning. Or…would we?)
(5) With (Very important concept. Without with we’d be alone. This word joins us. It’s really romantic when you think about it. Without it, we’d only have a lonely chicken. But employing this word we can have a chicken with its head cut off…okay, that’s probably not the best example)
(4) No (Some people don’t like this word. They should give it some more thought. No is one of the first words that babies learn. Why are they so eager to shout this word at ever possible opportunity? It’s their first chance to be independent. And as much as we need with, we also desperately need to establish ourselves by ourselves. Also, without no there isn’t yes. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but if we didn’t get as many no’s as we do in life, the eventual yes would lose all its meaning)
(3) I (As I just established, we need to be recognized as unique beings. There’s probably a reason this is the 10th most common word and you is the 18th. Sure, people love pointing out that there’s no i in team, but there are three of them in individual)
(2) If (It could be argued that there is no more important word for a writer. This is a great and powerful word because it is a word of infinite possibilities. If can be anything. If I won the lottery. If I lost my job. If my friend jumped out of my duffel bag and started running around like a chicken with its head cut off)
(1) For (This may be the 12th most common word, but it’s my #1. And I can see that it might, at first, seem like an odd choice. But for is a word of purpose. People fight for a cause. Risk everything for a dream. Do anything for their family. Humans are a resilient bunch. We can survive without a lot of things. But it’s pretty hard to live without a for)