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What Is the Most Commonly Used Letter in English?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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The most commonly used letter in the English language is the letter “e”. This is the case in the general language, in fiction and non-fiction writings, journalism, religious works like the Bible, and even in Morse code. The most common consonant in English is “t.”

With “e” being so common in the English language, one would think that it would start the most words. Actually “t” begins the most words, followed by “o.” “E” is the letter which most commonly occurs third in a word, and is the third most common second letter in a word. The most common second letter in a word in English is h.

Actually, “e” is far down the list of English word beginners, and comes in at the 15th place. The five most common letters beginning words are “t,” “o,” “a,” “w,” and “b.”

Approximately half of the words in the English language end with the letters “e,” “t,” “d,” and “s” with the greatest share of words ending in “e.” Further, there are four letters most likely to follow “e" in a word. These are “r,” “s,” “n,” and “d.”

Ironically, of the most common words with two letters in the English language, only three words actually have an “e.” They are be, we, and me. As well, in the top twenty most frequently written English words, only three words have an “e.” These are “the,” the most frequently used word in the English language, and “he” and “be.” However, when one analyzes most frequently used three-letter words, “e” gets a fairer share.

When teaching children spelling, it can be fun to play a game with them, where one says only words that do not contain an “e.” It is pretty difficult to get through more than a few sentences without a slip. The “e” is fairly indispensable. For example, this article alone contains 193 of them. I have also used the most common consonant blend “th” 63 times, and the most common consonant “t” 151 times.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon354299 — On Nov 07, 2013

The letter "c" is where in this discussion?

By anon172651 — On May 04, 2011

in english, what two letters together, end most words?

By anon135946 — On Dec 21, 2010

Aren't there four two letter words with 'e' which include: be, me, we, and especially, he.

By anon101402 — On Aug 03, 2010

E is the most commonly used vowel in the English alphabet, while T is the most commonly used consonant in the English alphabet. A is the second most common vowel while consonants' runner up is N. R, D and S are also close. I just recognize this frequency process when i solve codewords, arrowwords, etc.

By anon88225 — On Jun 03, 2010

#14, the article states of the most common two-letter words, only three have the letter "e". He is not one of the most common english two-letter words apparently.

By anon76539 — On Apr 10, 2010

10, your forgetting the fact that a dictionary contains not only words but several lines of definitions as well, so testing the thickness of a few dictionary pages proves nothing.

By anon72587 — On Mar 23, 2010

Thanks. i needed that for art class!

By anon68075 — On Feb 28, 2010

is "he" not a word anymore? surely that is a two letter word ending in "e" as well as the other three. what?

By anon62346 — On Jan 26, 2010

Number 12, We aren't talking about greek gods of ancient civilisations. We are talking about the english language and definitely not greek.

By anon55359 — On Dec 07, 2009

This is incredibly inaccurate. If you look back to the Greek gods of the ancient civilizations, 'Z' is in fact, the most commonly used letter.

By anon53145 — On Nov 19, 2009

comment number 10, I believe you are neglecting to consider that the article above says that T is the most common letter to start off words in the english language. How many times a day do you use the word "the?" Several I am sure.

The article is only trying to prove that the letter "T" is used more often to begin a word, it never excludes the fact that the same word can be counted numerous times.

Also, just for the the thought, consider the number of times I have used the letter "t" in this comment (within or to begin a word) vs. the letter "s". :)

By anon52949 — On Nov 17, 2009

This is way off base. "S" is definitely the most commonly used letter. Don't believe me? Take out your favorite dictionary and hold the entire s-section together. Now while still holding this section together hold the entire T-section together. You will observe that S is significantly thicker.

According to a computer analysis of words in the Moby Dictionary, T is more in the middle of the list, than anywhere near the top. If you don't trust it, do the dictionary test for yourself.

By anon50213 — On Oct 27, 2009

I like Quebec idea :-)

By anon48860 — On Oct 15, 2009

Are we talking about dictionaries or actual language usage? With most plurals ending in "s" and many verb forms ending in "s", surely the letter "s" runs a close call to "t" in the consonant rankings?

By anon45486 — On Sep 17, 2009

Wow. This is cool!

By anon45040 — On Sep 13, 2009

Just being pedantic here, but the English 'this not a diphthong. A diphthong refers to a pair of vowels pronounced as a single sound. One vowel glides to the next as the mouth and tongue change position, resulting in what is called a 'contour vowel'. See words like "eye", "voice" and "sound" for examples of diphthongs. The sound referred to in the article is actually a dental fricative. English uses both a voiced dental fricative, ð, as well as the voiceless dental fricative, θ. the voiced consonant appears in words such as "there", and the voiceless fricative appears in words like "through".

By Palangkaraya — On Jul 10, 2009

That's why US should invade and annex Quebec.

By dudla — On Jun 20, 2008

Anon13878 - I think N is the second most common consonant in English, followed by S.

Did you know that Q is the only letter in the English alphabet that is not in the name of a US state?

By anon13878 — On Jun 05, 2008

If "T" is the most used consonant, what is the second most?

By somerset — On May 14, 2008

The least commonly used letter in the English language is "z" and the second least is "q" -- as you'd probably expect. "E" is also the most common letter in French, German, and Spanish.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor,...
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