According to the frequency dictionary, the top 2000 most used words in Russian account for 72% of the word forms used in texts, so if you learn these, you’ll be well on your way to being able to (slowly) work your way through many texts. The site provides both lists of the words, coupled with their usage frequency, along with their parts of speech, and of course, the translations. Also available are quizes for all of the words.
While the frequency dictionary page doesn’t offer any definitions, they offer lists of Russian words beyond the top 2000. They offer one list of “32,000 words with frequency greater than 1 ipm (one instance per million).” They offer a second list, with the top 5,000 most often used words in Russian. I’d say the latter would be more useful for learners of Russian.
There’s a bit of interesting data on the frequency dictionary page which I enjoyed reading:
- The average word length is 5.28 characters.
- The average sentence length is 10.38 words.
- 1000 most frequent lemmas cover 64.0708% of word forms in texts.
- 2000 most frequent lemmas cover 71.9521% of word forms in texts.
- 3000 most frequent lemmas cover 76.6824% of word forms in texts.
- 5000 most frequent lemmas cover 82.0604% of word forms in texts.
I think it’s interesting to note that the first 2000 words gets you to 72%, and yet learning another three thousand words will only gain another 10%. Diminishing returns, ineed. 🙂
If you’ve already covered these 2000 words (good job!), you might consider grabbing Nicholas Brown’s Russian Learners’ Dictionary: 10,000 Russian Words in Frequency Order. It’s a nice resource to have, and the Brown knows his stuff; he authored The New Penguin Russian Course: A Complete Course for Beginners, too, if you’re in need of a beginner’s course!
Good luck in your studies!