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As of 2010 359 million people spoke English as their first language. English is probably the third largest language by number of native speakers, after Mandarin and Spanish. However, when combining native and non-native speakers it is probably the most commonly spoken language in the world. English is spoken by communities on every continent and on oceanic islands in all the major oceans. The countries in which English is spoken can be grouped into different categories by how English is used in each country. The "inner circle" countries with many native speakers of English share an international standard of written English and jointly influence speech norms of English around the world. English does not belong to just one country, and it does not belong solely to descendants of English settlers. English is an official language of countries populated by few descendants of native speakers of English. It has also become by far the most important language of international communication when people who share no native language meet anywhere in the world.

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