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    The Oxford 3000 and the Oxford 5000

    What is 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.

    What is 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.

    Expand these sections to read more:

    Selecting the words

    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.
    Validated by experts

    The Oxford 3000 was developed in consultation with James Milton, Professor of Applied Linguistics, Swansea University, UK, and reviewed by Paul Nation, Emeritus Professor in Applied Linguistics, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.


    ‘When I started using the Oxford 3000 with my students… I wasn’t sure how students would respond to these activities. I found that they seem to like the routine and recognise the value of working with the Oxford 3000 word list.’

    Bjorn Candel, EFL teacher

    In the dictionary

    On this 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.

    Using the Oxford 3000 and 5000


    • 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 and 5000 are the perfect tools to get your students to focus on their vocabulary.

    • Filter the words by CEFR level to decide which words are most important for your students to target next, and which words to focus on in your teaching.
    • Encourage your students to use the dictionary, not just to look up words they don’t know, but to expand their knowledge of words they partly know.

    And we have created the following resources especially for teachers:

    • What is a core vocabulary? Read our blog post by ELT writer and lexicographer Julie Moore.
    • Watch Julie’s webinar about the Oxford 3000 and 5000 lists and how they can be used in the classroom (login/registration to Oxford Teachers’ Club required).
    • Download a free lesson plan to use in class with your students!