The Basic English reference article from the Simple Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Basic English

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The idea behind Basic English is to use the basic words we use in daily communication to explain more complicated thoughts. Basic English lists 850 of these basic words.

Of the 850 words 600 are nouns, or names of things, most of which one can learn by using a picture method. 150 are adjectives and descriptive words, and the last few 100 are some verbs and words that help put sentences together - conjunctions.

The grammar of Basic English is like full English but the rules fill one chapter rather than a whole book. There are fewer exceptions. Not all meanings of each word are permitted.

The Simple English Wikipedia follows some of the rules of Basic English, but is not so strict about using only a certain number of words. Simple English is still evolving, and is not committed yet to a single word list. However, the best starting point to writing in Simple English is to learn to write within Basic English and E Prime, just to know how constrained vocabulary writing works.