Which language is most similar to English?

(Last Updated On: )

Which Language Is Most Similar To English?

Humans have been around for millions of years. Throughout centuries, they have developed various characteristics. Today, we have thousands of different cultures. The people of the earth speak more than seven thousand languages. However, despite all the diverse qualities we have developed, there are still many things we have in common. We have linguistic and cultural similarities that can help us relate to each other. The study of these similarities can tell us a lot about our world. For instance, studying the language most similar to English can teach us more about the origins of different modern vernaculars.


The English Language

English a West Germanic language that originated in early medieval England. The vocabulary of English has been influenced by Old Norse, Latin language, and French. The Latin language was used to create the English alphabet. It shares a few similarities with the other members of the Germanic family. British Empire brought Modern English to different territories of the world. The powerful position of the United States in the world has also contributed to the popularity of English.

Today, it is the most widely studied language in the world. It is also the lingua franca of our world because of its number of speakers. You can find English speakers in almost every country in the world. By many native speakers, it is the third most spoken language globally. But it is the most spoken tongue globally by the number of total speakers. It is recognized as an official language in almost sixty sovereign states.

There are many English dialects today, and almost all of them are mutually intelligible. However, they have many differences in pronunciations. This is why British and American English sounds different from each other. Various English pidgins are used in Africa and the Americas by the natives for inter-ethnic communication. International communities, such as international businesspeople, may use English as an auxiliary language, focusing on vocabulary relevant to their field. As a result, several academics have begun to study English as an additional language. These factors make it difficult to determine the languages closest to English.

The inflectional system regularised many irregular inflectional forms and gradually simplified the system of agreement, making word order less flexible. Regularisation of varying forms also slowly continues (e.g., dreamed instead of dreamt), and analytical alternatives to inflectional forms are becoming more common. Most verbs have six inflectional forms. The copula verb to be is the only verb to retain some of its original conjugations and takes different inflectional forms depending on the subject.

Which Language is Most Similar to English?

When it comes to the similarity between languages, there is no simple answer. Modern vernaculars have both similarities and differences. English has influenced hundreds of foreign languages, and it continues to do so even today. European and Asian languages have taken many loanwords from English. But this does not mean that the grammar of these tongues is also the same. A language has vowels and consonants, definite articles and verbs, a grammatical structure, and a word order. So, having the same feature or a couple of words with the same roots does not mean that the two vernaculars are similar.

There are a few languages that are easy for English speakers to learn. Most people assume that since English is a Germanic language, it must be closest to German and Dutch. But according to a few linguists, the language most similar to English is Scots. However, many linguists think of Scots as an English dialect. Also, 64% of Scots do not consider English a distinct language. English also has a lot in common with Afrikaans, a South African language based on Dutch but with many indigenous terminologies. South African language based on Dutch but with a more indigenous vocabulary.

The language closest to English is Scots, assuming you consider Scots a language, that is. According to a 2010 study by the Scottish government, a majority (64%) of Scottish English people don’t. And yet, Scots began to diverge from English as far back as the Middle English period. The UK government classifies it as a regional language protected under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Because of the political divide, Scots was the primary language of Scotland until the union of the Scottish and English parliaments in 1707.

Except for personal pronoun, the distinction between nominative and accusative cases was lost, the instrumental case was dropped, and the genitive case was reduced to showing possession. Personal pronouns are the only word class that retains morphological case more firmly than any other. Almost all Irish accents, like Scottish and most North American accents, keep the rhoticity that has been lost in RP-influenced dialects.


Frisian languages have the most significant percentage of lexical similarity with English. They are spoken in the Netherlands and Germany. In the Netherlands, Frisian dialects have been influenced by Dutch. Although the vocabulary of Frisian and English is 60 percent similar, they are not mutually intelligible. The Frisian dialects are not mutually intelligible either. The varieties spoken in the Netherlands and Germany are very different. West Frisian, the dialect spoken in the Netherlands, is the most similar to English. However, English speakers can quickly learn any of the Frisian dialects. They already know thousands of Frisian words. In most Frisian areas, Frisian was used as a written language until roughly 1500, when Dutch became the language of government. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes who colonized England shared a common background and spoke a mutually intelligible language.


Fast Facts About Frisian Languages 

  • In the Middle Ages, Frisian was spoken all along the southern coast of the North Sea, from Bruges in Belgium to the river Weser in Germany.
  • The Frisians shared a common ancestry and a mutually intelligible language with the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who settled England.
  •  Frisian was used as a written language until around 1500 when Dutch became the language of government in most Frisian lands. However, Frisians continued to speak the language even when they didn’t write it. Frisian writers and poets revived the written language in the 19th century.
  • Today, there are about 480,000 Frisian native speakers.

The sentence “Butter, bread and green cheese is good English, and good Frise” is pronounced almost the same in Frisian and English. Despite this, the two languages are not mutually intelligible.

Fast Facts About Dutch

  • There are 23 million Dutch speakers in the world.
  • Dutch is spoken mainly in the Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname, France, and some parts of the Caribbean.
  • Dutch is mutually intelligible with Afrikaans, but Afrikaans is considered a separate language.
  • US President Martin van Buren was from a Dutch family and spoke Dutch, not English, as his first language.
  • The longest word in the Dutch dictionary is  “meervoudigepersoonlijkheidsstoornissen,” or “multiple personality disorders.” It is 38 letters long!


German is another close relative of English. Although learning grammar is not easy for students studying German, they can take comfort in that it shares 60% of its vocabulary with English. German speakers can also quickly learn English. But there aren’t as many English speakers in Germany as in the Netherlands. There are also a few German dialects that are very different from English. German has very complicated grammar, so it’s not easy to learn it. But if you are visiting Germany, you won’t have to worry about the local tongue. The majority of the population is fluent in English.

Fast Facts About the German Language

  • German is the second-most commonly spoken Germanic language. The most common, of course, is English.
  • It has 95 million native speakers.
  • Some people think it sounds angry. 
  • The first printed book, the Gutenberg Bible,  is in German.

Germany shares 60% of its vocabulary with English.

Scandinavian Languages

The modern-day vernaculars of the Scandinavian people are the descendants of Old Norse. Old Norse also influenced English, and that’s why it is similar to the vocabularies of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. However, there are also many differences between these tongues. The grammar rules are different, and so is the pronunciation of similar words. But after Dutch speakers, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish speakers are the most fluent in English because of the shared Norse vocabulary. Tagalog is the primary language of the Philippines. Dutch and Spanish are both from Indo-European languages and written with Latin alphabets. That results in more nasal and guttural sounds.


There are two different standard forms of Norwegian: Bokmal, closer to Danish, and Nynorsk.

Fast Facts About Norwegian

  • There are about 5 million native Norwegian speakers.
  • There are two different standard forms of Norwegian: Bokmal, closer to Danish, and Nynorsk. Norwegian also has various spoken dialects.
  • Norwegian is a “pitch accent” language. It’s not fully tonal (like Mandarin.) But it does make limited use of tones to distinguish between otherwise identical words.

Romance Languages

The people of France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal speak vernaculars descended from Latin. Since English has also adopted many words from Latin, it has developed similarities to Romance languages. Various French phrases have made it into the everyday English vocabulary of English speakers. There are words in the French vocabulary with the same meaning in English. It is considered 27 percent lexically similar to English, and English speakers utilize many terms of French origin. Spanish also has a lot of shared features with English. The Spanish pronunciation of a few English words has become common in the English-speaking world.

Except for Frisian, Dutch is linguistically the closest language to English, with both languages being part of the West Germanic linguistic family. This means many Dutch words are cognates with English (meaning they share the same linguistic roots), giving them similar spelling and pronunciation. Both languages have evolved a long way from the common root, English by French and Frisian by Dutch. As a result, it is one of the easiest languages for English speakers, while Dutch speakers are generally at ease in English-speaking countries.

And The Easiest Language To Learn Is…

  1. Norwegian. This may come as a surprise, but we have ranked Norwegian as the easiest language to learn for English speakers.
  2. Swedish.
  3. Spanish.
  4. Dutch.
  5. Portuguese.
  6. Indonesian.
  7. Italian.

During the Treaty of Versailles discussions in 1919, it attained parity with French as a diplomatic language. English had risen to prominence by the time the United Nations was established at the end of World War II. It is now the primary language of diplomacy and international relations worldwide. The inner-circle countries provide the base from which English spreads to other countries worldwide. Most of those varieties of English include words little used by native speakers of English in inner-circle countries, and they may show grammatical and phonological differences from inner-circle varieties. The standard English of the inner-circle countries is often taken as a norm for English in the outer-circle countries.

Mandarin is unanimously considered the toughest language to master in the world! Spoken by over a billion people globally, the language can be challenging for people whose native languages use the Latin writing system.


Language Learning

Learners try to pick the option closest to their native language because the older we get, the harder it becomes to learn a new tongue. A child can quickly become bilingual if their family speaks more than one vernacular. But the same child will find it challenging to learn new vocabularies after growing up. Many language learners expect that English speakers will pick up Spanish and Dutch quickly.

Some words, primarily short function words and modal verbs such as can, have weak and strong forms depending on whether they occur in stressed or non-stressed positions within a sentence. Modern English syntax language is moderately analytic. It has developed features such as modal verbs word order as resources for conveying meaning. The personal interrogative pronoun is the only interrogative pronoun to still show inflection for the case, with the variant that serves as the objective case form. However, this form may be going out of use in many contexts. For letters or digraphs used to spell consonant sounds, readers of English may often rely on the connection between spelling and pronunciation to be quite regular.

But whether you are learning a complex language or an easy one, you will have to make an effort. You will also need time to become fluent in the vernacular you are learning. However, there are many methods of improving your learning experience. You can join an online community of learners and get tips from them. You can also ask questions in the community to enhance your understanding of the vernacular you are learning. Making lists of words is also a good idea. But at the end of the day, it all depends on how much time you are willing to give to the learning process. The more committed you are to the task, the easier it will be to excel at it.

English Translation

Although English is a popular language all over the world, there are still many people that can’t speak it. This is why translations are needed by businesses and individuals to communicate with those who speak a foreign language. But when you require linguistic assistance, you must hire qualified experts. If you go to websites, you will only get literal translations. The cultural elements of vernaculars will be ignored by machines. Only a human translator can understand and translate a language accurately. If you hire a good agency, you will be able to get high-quality English translations at affordable rates.


Yes,  Spanish is one of the most closely related languages to English.

West Frisian is widely considered to be the closest extant relative of Old English.

While Latin’s influence is apparent in many modern languages, it is no longer commonly spoken. … Latin is now considered a dead language, meaning it’s still used in specific contexts, but does not have native speakers. Frisian: Bûter, brea, en griene tsiis is goed Ingelsk en goed Frysk.

If we can help you with any questions, please feel free to contact us


Our privacy policy

Keep in touch


Contact Us 24/7

Translation office in Miami
Request quote