The frequency of letters in text messages has often been studied for use in cryptography, and frequency analysis in particular. An exact analysis of this is not possible, as each person writes slightly differently; however, an approximate ordering of English letters by frequency of use is ETAOIN SHRDL UCMFG YPWBV KXJQZ.

This brings up an interesting point. Letter frequencies, like word frequencies, tend to vary, both by writer and by subject. One cannot talk about x-rays without using frequent Xs, and cannot use any letter if it is broken on one's keyboard. Letter, bigram, trigraph and word frequencies can be used to prove or disprove authorship of long texts. Things like average word and sentence length are also used. Everyone writes differently Hemingway is not Faulkner, and so on. A precise average usage could only be gleaned by analyzing usage in a large mass of representative inputs.

Contents

Relative frequencies of letters

By letter By frequency
Letter Frequency Letter Frequency
a 0.08167 e 0.12702
b 0.01492 t 0.09056
c 0.02782 a 0.08167
d 0.04253 o 0.07507
e 0.12702 i 0.06966
f 0.02228 n 0.06749
g 0.02015 s 0.06327
h 0.06094 h 0.06094
i 0.06966 r 0.05987
j 0.00153 d 0.04253
k 0.00772 l 0.04025
l 0.04025 c 0.02782
m 0.02406 u 0.02758
n 0.06749 m 0.02406
o 0.07507 w 0.02360
p 0.01929 f 0.02228
q 0.00095 g 0.02015
r 0.05987 y 0.01974
s 0.06327 p 0.01929
t 0.09056 b 0.01492
u 0.02758 v 0.00978
v 0.00978 k 0.00772
w 0.02360 j 0.00153
x 0.00150 x 0.00150
y 0.01974 q 0.00095
z 0.00074 z 0.00074

Top 10 beginning of word letters

Letter Frequency
t 0.1594
a 0.155
i 0.0823
s 0.0775
o 0.0712
c 0.0597
m 0.0426
f 0.0408
p 0.040
w 0.0382

Top 10 end of word letters

Letter Frequency
e 0.1917
s 0.1435
d 0.0923
t 0.0864
n 0.0786
y 0.0730
r 0.0693
o 0.0467
l 0.0456
f 0.0408

Most common bigrams (in order)

th, he, in, en, nt, re, er, an, ti, es, on, at, se, nd, or, ar, al, te, co, de, to, ra, et, ed, it, sa, em, ro.

Most common trigrams (in order)

the, and, tha, ent, ing, ion, tio, for, nde, has, nce, edt, tis, oft, sth, men

Results from Project Gutenberg

Analysis of 9,481 English works (3.98 GiB) from Project Gutenberg (the extracted contents of the 2003 PG DVD, plain text files only, minus the human genome project, non-English works, and duplicates in 7-bit-clean encoding), after stripping off the common boilerplate text present in every file so as not to skew results, yielded the following frequencies of letters, bigrams, trigrams, and quadrigrams:

Letters

Of 3,104,375,038 letters scanned:

 1. e (390395169, 12.575645%)
 2. t (282039486, 9.085226%)
 3. a (248362256, 8.000395%)
 4. o (235661502, 7.591270%)
 5. i (214822972, 6.920007%)
 6. n (214319386, 6.903785%)
 7. s (196844692, 6.340880%)
 8. h (193607737, 6.236609%)
 9. r (184990759, 5.959034%)
10. d (134044565, 4.317924%)
11. l (125951672, 4.057231%)
12. u (88219598, 2.841783%)
13. c (79962026, 2.575785%)
14. m (79502870, 2.560994%)
15. f (72967175, 2.350463%)
16. w (69069021, 2.224893%)
17. g (61549736, 1.982677%)
18. y (59010696, 1.900888%)
19. p (55746578, 1.795742%)
20. b (47673928, 1.535701%)
21. v (30476191, 0.981717%)
22. k (22969448, 0.739906%)
23. x (5574077, 0.179556%)
24. j (4507165, 0.145188%)
25. q (3649838, 0.117571%)
26. z (2456495, 0.079130%)

Bigrams

Of 2,383,373,483 bigrams scanned:

 1. th (92535489, 3.882543%)
 2. he (87741289, 3.681391%)
 3. in (54433847, 2.283899%)
 4. er (51910883, 2.178042%)
 5. an (51015163, 2.140460%)
 6. re (41694599, 1.749394%)
 7. nd (37466077, 1.571977%)
 8. on (33802063, 1.418244%)
 9. en (32967758, 1.383239%)
10. at (31830493, 1.335523%)
11. ou (30637892, 1.285484%)
12. ed (30406590, 1.275779%)
13. ha (30381856, 1.274742%)
14. to (27877259, 1.169655%)
15. or (27434858, 1.151094%)
16. it (27048699, 1.134891%)
17. is (26452510, 1.109877%)
18. hi (26033632, 1.092302%)
19. es (26033602, 1.092301%)
20. ng (25106109, 1.053385%)

Trigrams

Of 1,699,542,842 trigrams scanned:

 1. the (59623899, 3.508232%)
 2. and (27088636, 1.593878%)
 3. ing (19494469, 1.147042%)
 4. her (13977786, 0.822444%)
 5. hat (11059185, 0.650715%)
 6. his (10141992, 0.596748%)
 7. tha (10088372, 0.593593%)
 8. ere (9527535, 0.560594%)
 9. for (9438784, 0.555372%)
10. ent (9020688, 0.530771%)
11. ion (8607405, 0.506454%)
12. ter (7836576, 0.461099%)
13. was (7826182, 0.460487%)
14. you (7430619, 0.437213%)
15. ith (7329285, 0.431250%)
16. ver (7320472, 0.430732%)
17. all (7184955, 0.422758%)
18. wit (6752112, 0.397290%)
19. thi (6709729, 0.394796%)
20. tio (6425262, 0.378058%)

Quadrigrams

Of 1,144,085,293 quadrigrams scanned:

 1. that (8709261, 0.761242%)
 2. ther (6916008, 0.604501%)
 3. with (6565513, 0.573866%)
 4. tion (6314428, 0.551919%)
 5. here (4285164, 0.374549%)
 6. ould (4232202, 0.369920%)
 7. ight (3540253, 0.309440%)
 8. have (3324067, 0.290544%)
 9. hich (3252540, 0.284292%)
10. whic (3247213, 0.283826%)
11. this (3161481, 0.276333%)
12. thin (3093756, 0.270413%)
13. they (3002324, 0.262421%)
14. atio (3001919, 0.262386%)
15. ever (2982572, 0.260695%)
16. from (2958372, 0.258580%)
17. ough (2899649, 0.253447%)
18. were (2643859, 0.231089%)
19. hing (2630750, 0.229944%)
20. ment (2555284, 0.223347%)

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Letter frequency".

 

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