10. French – 110 Million Native Speakers
French is the official language in 29 countries, most of which are members of la francophonie, the community of French-speaking countries. It is spoken as a first language in France, southern Belgium, western Switzerland, Monaco, certain parts of Canada and by various communities elsewhere. As of 2015, 40% of the francophone population (including L2 and partial speakers) is in Europe, 35% in sub-Saharan Africa, 15% in North Africa and the Mideast, 8% in America, and 1% in Asia and Oceania.
French is the second-most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union. 1/5 of non-Francophone Europeans speak French. As a result of French and Belgian colonialism from the 17th and 18th century onward, French was introduced to new territories in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Most second-language speakers reside in Francophone Africa, in particular Gabon, Algeria, Mauritius, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. In 2015, French was estimated to have 77-110 million native speakers and 190 million secondary speakers.
9. Malay-Indonesian – 220 million speakers (Total number of speakers)
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the national language of Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. It is spoken by 220 million people across the Malacca Strait, including the coasts of the Malay Peninsula of Malaysia and the eastern coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, and has been established as a native language of part of western coastal Sarawak and West Kalimantan in Borneo.
8. Portuguese – 250 million speakers (Total number of speakers)
Portuguese (português or, in full, língua portuguesa) is a Romance language and the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde,Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in Macau and East Timor. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka, in the Indonesian island of Flores, and in Malacca in Malaysia.
7. Russian – 277 million speakers
It is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages. It is also the largest native language in Europe, with 144 million native speakers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Russian is the eighth most spoken language in the world by number of native speakers and the seventh by total number of speakers. The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
6. Bengali – 300 million speakers
Bengali is the language native to the region of Bengal, which comprises the present-day nation of Bangladesh and of the Indian states West Bengal, Tripura and southern Assam. It is written using the Bengali alphabet. Bengali is the most spoken language in Bangladesh and second most spoken language in India. With about 250 million native and about 300 million total speakers worldwide, it is the seventh most spoken language in the world by total number of native speakers and the eleventh most spoken language by total number of speakers.
The importance of this language to the countries of South Asia is illustrated by the history of the national anthems of Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, and the national song of India, all first composed in the Bengali language.
5. Arabic – 400 million speakers (combined)
Arabic is a Central Semitic language, closely related to Aramaic, Hebrew, Ugaritic and Phoenician. Standard Arabic is distinct from and more conservative than all of the spoken varieties, and the two exist in a state known as diglossia, used side-by-side for different societal functions.
Some of the spoken varieties are mutually unintelligible, both written and orally, and the varieties as a whole constitute a sociolinguistic language. This means that on purely linguistic grounds they would likely be considered to constitute more than one language, but are commonly grouped together as a single language for political and/or religious reasons (see below). If considered multiple languages, it is unclear how many languages there would be, as the spoken varieties form a dialect chain with no clear boundaries. If Arabic is considered a single language, it is perhaps spoken by as many as 420 million speakers (native) in the Arab world, making it one of the six most-spoken languages in the world.
4. Spanish – 450 million speakers
Spanish is also one of the most popular languages. It is spoken in Brazil, Europe and South America. The Castilian dialect in Spain is held as a national standard, although Andalusian and Catalan are also spoken. Spanish is very similar to Portuguese and many Spanish and Portuguese speakers understand each other. “Hello” in Spanish is “Hola”.
3. Hindustani – 500 million speakers
Hindustani (Hindustani: हिन्दुस्तानी, ہندوستانی[a]), (literally “of Hindustan“) historically also known as Hindavi, Dehlvi, and Rekhta, is the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan. It is an Indo-Aryan language, deriving primarily from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi, and incorporates a large amount of vocabulary from Sanskrit, Persian,Arabic and Chagatai. It is a pluricentric language, with two official forms, Modern Standard Hindi and Modern Standard Urdu, which are its standardised registers, and which may be called Hindi-Urdu when taken together.
2. English – 700 million speakers
English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now a global lingua franca. It is an official language of almost 60 sovereign states, the most commonly spoken language in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand, and a widely spoken language in countries in the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia.
1. Mandarin – 1 Billion speakers
Mandarin is a group of related varieties of Chinese spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. Because most Mandarin dialects are found in the north, the group is also referred to as the “northern dialect(s)”. When the Mandarin group is taken as one language, as is often done in academic literature, it has more native speakers (nearly a billion) than any other language.