Basic English 850 Words (Ogden’s Basic English)

Basic English 850 Words (+6)

Though the list of Ogden’s Basic English 850 Words was created before World War II – with the supplemented parts that are added to the base – the list still stands as a great resource and is still valid today.

The list was originally broken down into different parts to signify the various aspects of the language that each part plays.  These parts are listed in the sections below.  The one thing that Ogden didn’t do (or at least it doesn’t seem so by researching his lists) is to break apart the words into their respective parts of speech or functions…

So I’ve done that for you 😀

(Okay, well…  I did it for me – but if it helps you…  awesome!)

It is understood that many words can act as more than one part of speech.  I have chosen to add the various words to the parts of speech that they are most commonly used as.  If you click the words, you will see the many other wonderful ways that each of these words can be used.


The “Operations” Words” (100 + 6)


andforiforsothan, thatwhile,


noto, pleaseyes

heI, itshesome, they, wewhoyou,

becomedogetgivegohavekeepletmakemayputsayseeseem, sendtakewill,


The “General Words” (400 +)

Once again, many of these words have different forms, representing the different parts of speech that they are used for.  One of the main ideas (it seems) about Ogden’s Basic English is to simplify the language.  So…  if a word has more than one meaning (or usage), it should only be used to represent the “main” or most common meaning.  Therefore, some words which have more than one usage or meaning are classed in the area that they are used most and NOT in an area, wherein, there is another more common word which means the same thing.

However, additions have been made where absolutely necessary or logical (due to change in the language or the world since the creation of Ogden’s Basic English.)

What can be perceived from a cursory inspection of Ogden’s Basic English is that what he termed “General Words” (and the following “Pictured Words”) are – respectively – the nouns of the language.  With General Words being intangible or “abstractnouns, whereas the “Pictured words are the tangible nouns.

The list below reflects the views of what was important at the time of the creation of the list.  Obviously there are many words that can be added, but they could fall into the category of the words for the fields of interest individual for each student


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