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''See main article [[Number of speakers of English]]''
 
''See main article [[Number of speakers of English]]''
  
For various reasons it is difficult to be exact about the total number of native speakers of English but estimates vary from three hundred and nine million to three hundred and forty one million. This would rank English fourth in number of native speakers after Mandarin Chinese, Hindi/Urdu and [[Spanish]].<ref>[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers wikipedia - languages by native speaker]</ref>
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For various reasons it is difficult to be exact about the total number of native speakers of English but estimates vary from three hundred and nine million to three hundred and forty one million. This would rank English fourth in number of native speakers after Mandarin Chinese, Hindi/Urdu and Spanish.<ref>[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers wikipedia - languages by native speaker]</ref>
  
 
On the other hand, if one were to attempt to include the number of individuals who speak English as a second language then the number becomes something in the order of one thousand five hundred million people - a larger number than that of any other language. A 2012 article in ''[[English Today]]'' by Bolton and Graddol, quoting a ''China Daily'' article, states that around 400 million people in China, approximately a third of the population, are currently learning English.<ref>[http://cup.linguistlist.org/2012/09/the-great-china-english-puzzle/ Graddol, D. "The great China English puzzle"] [[Cambridge University Press]]. Retrieved 6th October 2012.</ref><ref>[http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=8691693&jid=ENG&volumeId=28&issueId=03&aid=8691692&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0266078412000223 Bolton, K. and Graddol, D. "English in China today" in ''English Today'' Volume 28, Issue 03, Sept. 2012, pp 3-9] ''[[English Today]]''. Retrieved 6th October 2012.</ref> A more precise figure, that of 390.16 million people who ''had learnt English'' i.e. studied it at school as a foreign language, is quoted by Wei and Su in the same issue.<ref>[http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=8691696&jid=ENG&volumeId=28&issueId=03&aid=8691695&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0266078412000235 Wei, R. and Su, J. "The statistics of English in China: An analysis of the best available data from government sources" in ''English Today '', Volume 28, Issue 03, Sept. 2012, pp 10-14] ''[[English Today]]''. Retrieved 6th October 2012. (Available free of charge until the 31st October 2012.)</ref>
 
On the other hand, if one were to attempt to include the number of individuals who speak English as a second language then the number becomes something in the order of one thousand five hundred million people - a larger number than that of any other language. A 2012 article in ''[[English Today]]'' by Bolton and Graddol, quoting a ''China Daily'' article, states that around 400 million people in China, approximately a third of the population, are currently learning English.<ref>[http://cup.linguistlist.org/2012/09/the-great-china-english-puzzle/ Graddol, D. "The great China English puzzle"] [[Cambridge University Press]]. Retrieved 6th October 2012.</ref><ref>[http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=8691693&jid=ENG&volumeId=28&issueId=03&aid=8691692&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0266078412000223 Bolton, K. and Graddol, D. "English in China today" in ''English Today'' Volume 28, Issue 03, Sept. 2012, pp 3-9] ''[[English Today]]''. Retrieved 6th October 2012.</ref> A more precise figure, that of 390.16 million people who ''had learnt English'' i.e. studied it at school as a foreign language, is quoted by Wei and Su in the same issue.<ref>[http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=8691696&jid=ENG&volumeId=28&issueId=03&aid=8691695&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0266078412000235 Wei, R. and Su, J. "The statistics of English in China: An analysis of the best available data from government sources" in ''English Today '', Volume 28, Issue 03, Sept. 2012, pp 10-14] ''[[English Today]]''. Retrieved 6th October 2012. (Available free of charge until the 31st October 2012.)</ref>

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