Vocabulary: Selecting GSL

English for Academic Purposes:  Vocabulary

Selecting vocabulary: General service list of English words

In order to succeed in HE in English, you need:

  • a good general vocabulary, for example: General Service List of English Words. West (1953).

In 1953 Michael West (West, 1953) published his well-known General Service List of English words. This was a list of the 2000 most useful word families of English. Although the list has been criticised for many reasons, research into academic texts by Averil Coxhead (Coxhead, 2000) has shown that the General Service List (GSL) covers almost 80% of the academic texts she studied. It would seem essential for any EAP student to know these word families.

General Service List of English Words. West (1953).

The original list had about 2000 headwords and about 1500 related words, making about 3500 words altogether. In the original list, different verb forms were not given (e.g. work, works, working), neither were plurals (book, books), nor the months, days of the week and numbers. I have added these making about 5500 words altogether.



a, able, about, above, abroad, absence, absolutely, accept, accident, accord, account, accuse, accustom, ache, across, act, actual, add, address, admire, admit, adopt, advance, advantage, adventure, advertise, advice, aeroplane, affair, afford, afraid, after, afternoon, again, against, age, agent, ago, agree, agriculture, ahead, aim, air, alike, alive, all, allow, almost, alone, along, aloud, already, also, although, altogether, always, ambition, among, amongst, amount, amuse, ancient, an, and, anger, angle, angry, animal, annoy, another, answer, anxiety, any, apart, apologise, appear, applaud, apple, apply, appoint, approve, April, arch, argue, arise, arm, army, around, arrange, arrest, arrive, arrow, art, article, artificial, as, ash, ashamed, aside, ask, asleep, association, astonish, at, attack, attempt, attend, attract, audience, august, aunt, autumn, avenue, average, avoid, awake, away, awkward, axe


baby, back, bad, bag, baggage, bake, balance, ball, band, bank, bar, barber, bare, bargain, barrel, base, basin, basket, bath, battle, bay, be, beak, beam, bean, bear, beard, beast, beat, beauty, because, become, bed, before, beg, begin, behave, behind, being, believe, bell, belong, below, belt, bend, beneath, berry, beside, best, better, between, beyond, bicycle, big, bill, bind, bird, birth, bit, bite, bitter, black, blade, blame, bless, blind, block, blood, blow, blue, board, boast, boat, body, boil, bold, bone, book, border, born, borrow, both, bottle, bottom, bound, boundary, bow, bowl, box, boy, brain, branch, brass, brave, bread, break, breakfast, breath, bribe, brick, bridge, bright, bring, broad, brother, brown, brush, bucket, build, bunch, bundle, burn, burst, bury, bus, bush, business, busy, but, butter, button, buy, by


cage, cake, calculate, call, calm, camera, camp, can, canal, cap, cape, capital, captain, car, card, care, carriage, carry, cart, case, castle, cat, catch, cattle, cause, caution, cave, cent, centre, century, ceremony, certain, chain, chair, chalk, chance, change, character, charge, charm, cheap, cheat, check, cheer, cheese, cheque, chest, chicken, chief, child, chimney, choose, christmas, church, circle, city, civilise, claim, class, clay, clean, clear, clerk, clever, cliff, climb, clock, close, cloth, cloud, club, coal, coarse, coast, coat, coffee, coin, cold, collar, collect, college, colony, colour, comb, combine, come, comfort, command, commerce, committee, common, companion, company, compare, compete, complain, complete, complicated, compose, concern, condition, confess, confidence, confuse, congratulate, connect, conquer, conscience, conscious, consider, contain, content, continue, control, convenience, conversation, cook, cool, copper, copy, cork, corn, corner, correct, cost, cottage, cotton, cough, council, count, country, courage, course, court, cousin, cover, cow, coward, crack, crash, cream, creature, creep, crime, critic, crop, cross, crowd, crown, cruel, crush, cry, cultivate, cup, cupboard, cure, curious, curl, current, curse, curtain, curve, cushion, custom, cut


damage, damp, dance, danger, dare, dark, date, daughter, day, dead, deaf, deal, dear, debt, decay, deceive, December, decide, declare, decrease, deed, deep, deer, defeat, defend, degree, delay, delicate, delight, deliver, demand, department, depend, descend, describe, desert, deserve, desire, desk, despair, destroy, detail, determine, develop, devil, diamond, dictionary, die, difference, difficult, dig, dinner, dip, direct, dirt, disappoint, discipline, discover, discuss, disease, disgust, dish, dismiss, distance, distinguish, district, disturb, ditch, dive, divide, do, doctor, dog, dollar, donkey, door, dot, double, doubt, down, dozen, drag, draw, drawer, dream, dress, drink, drive, drop, drown, drum, dry, duck, due, dull, during, dust, duty


each, eager, ear, early, earn, earnest, earth, ease, east, easy, eat, edge, educate, effect, effort, egg, either, eight, eighteen, eighty, elastic, elder, elect, electricity, elephant, eleven, else, empire, employ, empty, enclose, encourage, end, enemy, engine, English, enjoy, enough, enquire, enter, entertain, entire, entrance, envelope, envy, equal, escape, especial, essence, even, evening, event, ever, every, evil, exact, examination, example, excellent, except, excess, excite, excuse, exercise, exist, expect, expense, experience, experiment, explain, explode, explore, express, extend, extra, extraordinary, extreme, eye


face, fact, factory, fade, fail, faint, fair, faith, fall, false, familiar, family, famous, fan, fancy, far, farm, fashion, fast, fat, fate, father, fatten, fault, favour, favourite, fear, feast, feather, February, feed, feel, fellow, female, fence, fever, few, field, fierce, fifteen, fifty, fight, figure, fill, film, find, fine, finger, finish, fire, firm, first, fish, fit, five, fix, flag, flame, flash, flat, flavour, flesh, float, flood, floor, flour, flow, flower, fly, fold, follow, fond, food, fool, foot, for, forbid, force, foreign, forest, forget, forgive, fork, form, formal, former, forty, four, fourteen, fortune, forward, frame, free, freeze, frequency, frequent, fresh, friend, Friday, fright, from, front, fruit, fry, full, fun, funeral, fur, furnish, further, future


gain, gallon, game, gap, garage, garden, gas, gate, gather, gay, general, generous, gentle, get, girl, give, glad, glass, glory, go, goat, god, gold, good, govern, grace, gradual, grain, grammar, grand, grass, grateful, grave, grease, great, greed, green, greet, grey, grind, ground, group, grow, guard, guess, guest, guide, guilty, gun


habit, hair, half, hall, hammer, hand, handkerchief, handle, hang, happen, happy, harbour, hard, hardly, harm, harvest, haste, hat, hate, have, hay, he, head, heal, health, heap, hear, heart, heat, heaven, heavy, height, hello, help, here, hesitate, hide, high, hill, hinder, hire, his, history, hit, hold, hole, holiday, hollow, holy, home, honest, honour, hook, hope, horizon, horse, hospital, host, hot, hotel, hour, house, how, human, humble, hundred, hunger, hunt, hurrah, hurry, hurt, husband, hut


I, ice, idea, ideal, idle, if, ill, imagine, imitate, immediate, immense, important, impossible, improve, in, inch, include, increase, indeed, independent, industry, influence, inform, ink, in-law, inn, inquire, insect, inside, instant, instead, instrument, insult, insure, intend, interest, interfere, international, interrupt, into, introduce, invent, invite, inward, iron, island, it, its


January, jaw, jealous, jewel, join, joint, joke, journey, joy, judge, juice, july, jump, June, just


keep, key, kick, kill, kind, king, kiss, kitchen, knee, knife, knock, knot, know, lack


ladder, lady, lake, lamp, land, language, large, last, late, latter, laugh, law, lay, lazy, lead, leaf, lean, learn, least, leather, leave, left, leg, lend, length, less, lesson, let, letter, level, liberty, library, lid, lie, life, lift, light, like, likely, limb, limit, line, lip, liquid, list, listen, literature, little, live, load, loaf, loan, local, lock, lodging, log, lonely, long, look, loose, lord, lose, loss, lot, loud, love, low, loyal, luck, lump, lunch, lung


machine, mad, mail, main, make, male, man, manage, manners, manufacture, many, map, march, mark, market, marry, mass, master, mat, match, material, matter, may, meal, mean, meanwhile, measure, meat, mechanic, medicine, meet, melt, member, memory, mend, mention, merchant, mercy, mere, merry, message, metal, middle, might, mild, mile, milk, mill, mind, mine, minister, minute, mis-, miserable, miss, mistake, mix, model, moderate, modern, modest, moment, Monday, money, monkey, month, moon, moral, more, moreover, morning, most, mother, motion, motor, mountain, mouse, mouth, move, much, mud, multiply, murder, music, must, my, mystery


nail, name, narrow, nation, native, nature, near, neat, necessary, neck, need, needle, neglect, neighbour, neither, nephew, nest, net, never, new, next, nice, niece, night, nine, ninety, nineteen, no, noble, noise, none, nonsense, noon, nor, north, nose, not, note, nothing, notice, noun, November, now, nowhere, nuisance, number, nurse, nut


oar, obey, object, observe, occasion, ocean, October, of, off, offend, offer, office, often, oil, old, omit, on, once, one, only, onto, open, operation, opinion, opportunity, opposite, or, orange, order, ordinary, organ, organise, origin, ornament, other, otherwise, ought, ounce, our, out, over, overcome, owe, own


pack, pad, page, pain, paint, pair, pale, pan, paper, parcel, pardon, parent, park, part, particular, party, pass, passage, past, paste, path, patient, patriotic, pattern, pause, paw, pay, peace, pearl, peculiar, pen, pencil, penny, people, per, perfect, perform, perhaps, permanent, permit, person, persuade, pet, photograph, pick, picture, piece, pig, pigeon, pile, pin, pinch, pink, pint, pipe, pity, place, plain, plan, plant, plaster, plate, play, please, plenty, plough, plural, pocket, poet, point, poison, police, polish, polite, political, pool, poor, popular, population, position, possess, possible, post, postpone, pot, pound, pour, poverty, powder, power, practical, practice, praise, pray, preach, precious, prefer, prejudice, prepare, present, preserve, president, press, pretend, pretty, prevent, price, pride, priest, print, prison, private, prize, probable, problem, procession, produce, profession, profit, programme, progress, promise, prompt, pronounce, proof, proper, property, propose, protect, proud, prove, provide, public, pull, pump, punctual, punish, pupil, pure, purple, purpose, push, put, puzzle


qualify, quality, quantity, quarrel, quart, quarter, queen, question, quick, quiet, quite


rabbit, race, radio, rail, rain, raise, rake, rank, rapid, rare, rat, rate, rather, raw, ray, razor, reach, read, ready, real, reason, receive, recent, recognise, recommend, record, red, reduce, refer, reflect, refresh, refuse, regard, regret, regular, rejoice, relation, relieve, religion, remain, remark, remedy, remember, remind, rent, repair, repeat, replace, reply, report, represent, reproduce, republic, reputation, request, rescue, reserve, resign, resist, respect, responsible, rest, restaurant, result, retire, return, revenge, review, reward, ribbon, rice, rich, rid, ride, right, ring, ripe, rise, risk, rival, river, road, roar, roast, rob, rock, rod, roll, roof, room, root, rope, rot, rough, round, row, royal, rub, rubber, rubbish, rude, rug, ruin, rule, ruler, run, rush, rust


sacred, sacrifice, sad, saddle, safe, sail, sake, salary, sale, salt, same, sample, sand, satisfy, Saturday, sauce, saucer, save, saw, say, scale, scarce, scatter, scene, scent, school, science, scissors, scold, scorn, scrape, scratch, screen, screw, sea, search, season, seat, second, secret, secretary, see, seed, seem, seize, seldom, self, sell, send, sense, sentence, separate, September, serious, serve, set, settle, seven, seventeen, seventy, several, severe, sew, shade, shadow, shake, shall, shallow, shame, shape, share, sharp, shave, she, sheep, sheet, shelf, shell, shelter, shield, shilling, shine, ship, shirt, shock, shoe, shoot, shop, shore, short, should, shoulder, shout, show, shower, shut, sick, side, sight, sign, signal, silence, silk, silver, simple, since, sincere, sing, single, sir, six, sixty, sixteen, sister, sit, situation, size, skill, skin, skirt, sky, slave, sleep, slide, slight, slip, slope, slow, small, smell, smile, smoke, smooth, snake, snow, so, soap, society, sock, soft, soil, soldier, solemn, solid, solve, some, son, soon, sore, sorrow, sorry, sort, soul, sound, soup, sour, south, sow, space, spade, spare, speak, special, speed, spell, spend, spill, spin, spirit, spit, spite, splendid, split, spoil, spoon, sport, spot, spread, spring, square, staff, stage, stain, stair, stamp, stand, standard, star, start, state, station, stay, steady, steal, steam, steel, steep, steer, stem, step, stick, stiff, still, sting, stir, stock, stocking, stomach, stone, stop, store, storm, story, stove, straight, strange, strap, straw, stream, street, strength, stretch, strict, strike, string, strip, stripe, strong, struggle, study, stuff, stupid, subject, substance, succeed, success, such, suck, sudden, suffer, sugar, suggest, suit, summer, sun, Sunday, supper, supply, support, suppose, sure, surface, surprise, surround, suspect, swallow, swear, sweat, sweep, sweet, swell, swim, swing, sword, sympathy, system


table, tail, tailor, take, talk, tall, tame, tap, taste, tax, taxi, tea, teach, tear, telegraph, telephone, tell, temper, temperature, temple, tempt, tend, tender, tent, ten, term, terrible, test, than, thank, that, the, theatre, their, then, there, therefore, these, they, thick, thief, thin, thing, think, thirst, thirteen, thirty, this, thorn, thorough, those, though, thought, thousand, Thursday, threads, thread, threaten, three, throat, through, throw, thumb, thunder, thus, ticket, tide, tidy, tie, tight, till, time, tin, tip, tire, title, to, tobacco, today, toe, together, tomorrow, ton, tongue, tonight, too, tool, tooth, top, total, touch, tough, tour, toward, towel, tower, town, toy, track, trade, train, translate, trap, travel, tray, treasure, treat, tree, tremble, trial, tribe, trick, trip, trouble, true, trunk, trust, try, tube, Tuesday, tune, turn, twelve, twenty, twist, two, type


ugly, umbrella, uncle, under, understand, union, universe, university, unless, until, up, upon, upper, upright, upset, upward, urge, use, usual


vain, valley, value, various, veil, verb, verse, very, vessel, victory, view, village, violent, virtue, visit, voice, vote, vowel, voyage


wage, waist, wait, wake, walk, wall, wander, want, war, warm, warn, wash, waste, watch, water, wave, wax, way, we, weak, wealth, weapon, wear, weather, weave, Wednesday, weed, week, weigh, welcome, well, west, wet, what, wheat, wheel, when, where, whether, which, while, whip, whisper, whistle, white, who, whole, whose, why, wicked, wide, widow, wife, wild, will, win, wind, window, wine, wing, winter, wipe, wire, wise, wish, with, within, without, witness, woman, wonder, wood, wool, word, work, world, worm, worry, worse, worship, worst, worth, would, wound, wrap, wreck, wrist, write, wrong


yard, year, yellow, yes, yesterday, yet, yield, you, young, youth



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