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AWARE Writing Centre: Oxford 3000 and 5000 (Core Vocabulary)

Academic Writing and Research Excellence

The Oxford 3000 and 5000

Selection Criteria

The words in the Oxford 3000 and 5000 have been selected based on two criteria:

  • the frequency of the words in the Oxford English Corpus, a database of over 2 billion words from different subject areas and contexts which covers British, American and world English.
  • the relevance of the words to English language learners, measured by their frequency in a specially created corpus of Secondary and Adult English courses published by Oxford University Press. This means that the lists cover the words that learners will come across in class and in their study texts.

Using the Lists

On the website, the words are listed alphabetically. You can browse the words, search for a word, filter the list, and download them. The CEFR level is shown beside each word, and you can hear the word pronounced in either British or American English.

Every definition in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary is written using words from the Oxford 3000, making it easier for users of these lists to look up and understand the definitions.

  • Filter the words by CEFR level to see which words you should know at your level and which words to learn.
  • The keywords make an excellent starting point for expanding your vocabulary. With most keywords, there is far more to learn about them than the first meaning in the entry. Often these words have many meanings, have a large family of words derived from them, or are used in a variety of patterns. You will also find a wide variety of usage notes at the keyword entries.

The Oxford 3000

The Oxford 3000 is a list of the 3,000 core words that every learner of English needs to know.

The words have been chosen based on their frequency in the Oxford English Corpus and relevance to learners of English. Every word is aligned to the CEFR, guiding learners on the words they should know at A1-B2 level.

Note that you can filter the list according to CEFR levels. You can also choose the Oxford 3000, the Oxford 5000, or even the Oxford 5000 excluding the Oxford 3000.

If you enter any word in the search box, it will indicate if it is in the Oxford 3000 or 5000 by displaying a key symbol and a CEFR level (e.g. B1) below the word. It may also state "Opal W" and/ or "Opal S". This indicates that the word is also in the Oxford Phrasal Academic Lexicon (see next tab on the Libguide), either in the written (W) or spoken (S) lists.

The Oxford 5000

The Oxford 5000 is an expanded core word list for advanced learners of English.

As well as the Oxford 3000 core word list, it includes an additional 2,000 words that are aligned to the CEFR, guiding advanced learners at B2-C1 level on the most useful high-level words to learn to expand their vocabulary.

Note that you can filter the list according to CEFR levels. You can also choose the Oxford 3000, the Oxford 5000, or even the Oxford 5000 excluding the Oxford 3000.

If you enter any word in the search box, it will indicate if it is in the Oxford 3000 or 5000 by displaying a key symbol and a CEFR level (e.g. B1) below the word. It may also state "Opal W" and/ or "Opal S". This indicates that the word is also in the Oxford Phrasal Academic Lexicon (see next tab on the Libguide), either in the written (W) or spoken (S) lists.