How Many People in India Speak English?

India English Proficiency Index

India is among the countries with the most English speakers worldwide. With roughly 129 million people speaking English across the country, India makes up nearly 9% of the global anglophone population. India’s total English-speaking population is second only to that of the U.S., where a little over 300 million people speak the language.

Most Indians don’t speak English as a mother tongue but as a foreign language. According to proficiency data, English speakers in India have moderate fluency, on average. The 2023 edition of the English Proficiency Index ranked India #60 in the world, with an EPI score of roughly 500 points out of 800.

Despite these impressive numbers, English is not widely spoken in all of India. On a national scale, roughly 1 in 10 people in India speak English. However, the share of English speakers varies greatly from one part of the country to another. In certain parts of India, nearly 1 in 2 people speak English, and the proficiency level is high.

Keep reading for a more in-depth breakdown of English language statistics in India!

What Percentage of People in India Speak English?

Up to 10% of India's population speaks English
Up to 10% of India’s population speaks English

According to the most recent estimates, 6-10% of people in India speak English. These figures come from two sources.

A 2011 national census conducted by the Indian government found that 10.2% of the Indian population speaks English. This figure includes all Indians who speak English as a first, second, or third language.

Here’s the percentage of English speakers by separate category:

  • 0.02% of Indians speak English as a first language (L1)
  • 6.57% of Indians speak English as a second language (L2)
  • 3.6% of Indians speak English as a third language (L3)

Secondly, a 2019 Lok Foundation survey, conducted in collaboration with Oxford University found that just 6% of respondents spoke English. The survey results separated the percentage of English speakers by various sociocultural factors.

Here’s what the 2019 survey data shows:

  • 12% of urban respondents could speak English.
  • 41% of respondents with a good financial standing spoke English.
  • In comparison, only 3% of rural respondents stated they spoke English.
  • Only 2% of Indians who are poor can speak English.

According to the same survey, English proficiency is heavily linked to education level and social class. Under the Indian social classification system, upper-caste Indians were three times more likely to speak English compared to Indians who belonged to scheduled castes or scheduled tribes, which make up 25% of the population.

Sources:, Financial Express, Wikipedia

Number of English Speakers in India (General Stats)

By total numbers, India has the most English speakers of all post-colonial nations, and of all countries outside the Anglosphere. As an actual percentage of the total population, though, India has a smaller share of English speakers than other countries.

In 2023, India ranked 9th place in Asia for English proficiency, below other post-colonial Anglophone nations like the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, but also below other countries like Nepal, Vietnam, and South Korea.

Here’s more information about the English language in India:

  1. According to the 2011 census, 128,539,090 Indian people speak English, roughly 10% of the population.
  1. Most Indians speak English as a second language or third language. A total of 82,717,239 Indians speak English as a second language, and 45,562,173 as a third language.
  1. Only 259,678 people in India are native speakers of English.
  1. Of the population that speaks English as a mother tongue, 41% are located in Maharashtra, Western India. This region has the largest share of native English speakers in the country. 
  1. According to the 2023 edition of the English Proficiency Index, Indians have moderate English skills on average, with a national score of 504 out of 800 points.
  1. The cities with the best English skills are Jaipur, Mumbai, and Chennai. Based on English proficiency stats, the average English level in Jaipur and Mumbai is similar to that in European countries like Finland, Luxembourg, or Poland.
  1. Upper-class Indians are the most likely to speak English, compared to other social groups.
  1. English is a compulsory subject in Indian schools. English education usually starts in grade 1, roughly at the age of 6-7.
  1. Over the past decade, there’s been a shift away from English teaching to favor local languages as a main medium of instruction. 

Currently, the main language used for teaching in many schools is Hindi, though schools in different regions will also teach in the official local language.  However, English remains a popular choice, and the demand for English-only schools is increasing.

  1. In 2019, over a quarter of Indian schoolchildren were studying in English-medium schools.

Overall, English is not widely spoken at a national level. However, English is more widespread in certain regions and cities. Of the small percentage of English speakers in India, proficiency data suggests that most have a reasonable degree of fluency and a good grasp of the language.

Sources: Education First 1 & 2,, Financial Express, Teaching English, Times of India

Where In India Is English Widely Spoken?

42% of Indians living in Chandigarh speak English as a second language
42% of Indians living in Chandigarh speak English as a second language

English as a mother tongue is most common in Maharashtra, followed by Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Together, these three regions make up nearly 60% of the native English-speaking population in India.

When accounting for native and non native speakers together, South India, Northeast India, and parts of Northern India have the most English speakers. English is particularly common in the following regions, where around a third or more of the population can speak the language:

  • Goa (42%)
  • Nagaland (33%)
  • Manipur (32%)
  • Punjab (30%)

English in India is definitely not a rural phenomenon. The share of English speakers is greatest in highly developed urban environments. The largest and richest cities are going to have the biggest population of fluent English speakers, especially places like:

  • Chandigarh
  • Mumbai
  • Delhi
  • Bengaluru
  • Chennai
  • Jaipur

In Chandigarh, and Delhi in particular, approximately 42% and 32% of the population, respectively, speaks English. The cities on this list also have some of the best English speakers in India.

Sources:, Stats of India

English Speakers in India by Region

The Republic of India is a federal union made up of 28 states and 8 union territories. The 2023 EPI provides proficiency data for 27 of these divisions.

Here’s where people speak the best English in India, by region:

State/TerritoryEPI ScoreProficiency LevelCEFR Level


B2 (Upper-intermediate)
Himachal Pradesh573
Tamil Nadu572
West Bengal554

Andhra Pradesh526
Madhya Pradesh497


B1 (Intermediate)
Jammu and Kashmir471
Uttar Pradesh433Very Low

According to these numbers, at least half of India’s states and territories have an upper-intermediate English level on average. As per CEFR assessment criteria, English speakers at this level can:

  • Speak with a high degree of grammatical correctness, without making any big mistakes that cause misunderstandings.
  • Use a decent range of vocabulary and sentence structures to communicate on most general topics.
  • Speak for an extended period, at a regular and even speed, without many pauses in communication.

Although Goa was reported as having the highest population of English speakers overall, the proficiency level in 2023 was low. Still, some of the states with the fewest English speakers were among the most proficient in 2023.

Roughly 10% of India speaks English but the average English-speaking population is even lower in Rajasthan (4.6%), West Bengal (6.7%), and Uttarakhand (8.4%), where the average proficiency level is high.

On the other hand, other states with few English speakers also had the lowest proficiency scores. Examples include Chhattisgarh (2.3%), Bihar (2.7%), Uttar Pradesh (6.4%), Tripura (7.5%), and Assam (8%).

Sources: Education First, Council of Europe, Stats of India

English Speakers in India by City

The average English level in India’s biggest cities is high. In 2023, the cities of Jaipur, Mumbai, and Chennai nearly made the cutoff for very high proficiency (600 points or above), the equivalent of a CEFR level of C1 (advanced).

Here’s a closer look at proficiency scores by city in India:

CityEPI ScoreProficiency LevelCEFR Level


B2 (Upper-intermediate)



B1 (Intermediate)

Very Low
A2 (Elementary)

People in Jaipur, Mumbai, and Chennai had an average English level similar to some European countries like Finland or Luxembourg. On the other hand, cities like Varanasi, Agra, and Aligarh had proficiency scores lower than the Democratic Republic of Congo, the lowest-ranking country in the 2023 edition of the English Proficiency Index.

There’s a huge difference in English skills across Indian cities. This difference stands when comparing the cities by proficiency score as well as CEFR level.

CEFR Levels and their EPI score equivalents
CEFR Levels and their EPI score equivalents

Sources: Education First 1 & 2

English Speakers in India by Demographic Group

Indians living in cities are 4x times more likely to speak English than rural populations
Indians living in cities are 4x times more likely to speak English than rural populations

English language schools have become increasingly popular over the past few years. More and more parents are seeking English language education for their children. As a whole, the younger generations are more likely to learn and speak English.

However, beyond age, English use in India has a clear class element. According to census, survey, and proficiency data:

  • English skills in the country don’t differ much across age groups. Historically, all Indian age brackets, from 18-20 to 41+ years old, had similar proficiency levels (moderate).
  • Before the pandemic, Indians aged 18-25 had the highest proficiency scores. Since 2019, there has been a drop in scores among young adults, especially those aged 18-20.
  • More men than women reported they could speak English in surveys.
  • Since 2019, women’s proficiency scores dipped below men’s. In 2023, male test takers had an average proficiency score of 534 (moderate proficiency), while women scored 474 points (low proficiency).
  • Indians living in urbanized areas are four times more likely to speak English than rural populations.
  • Upper-class Indians are three times more likely to speak English, compared to Indians who belong to scheduled castes or scheduled tribes.
  • Indians with a higher income were also 20 times more likely to speak English, compared to those with the lowest income.
  • Less than 10% of Indians with a high school education, and less than 2% of Indians with no education could speak English, compared to nearly 34% of those who finished graduate school.
  • Christians in India were roughly three times more likely to speak English, compared to Hindus and Muslims.

Overall, the people most likely to speak English in India are the youth, those with a higher education, those with a higher income, and those living in urban areas. This divide in English skills isn’t surprising when considering the role and status of English in the country. 

English remains an important asset in both the Indian economy, as well as the global economy. The English language is most common in formal settings, such as higher educational institutions, national media, and white-collar jobs. 

Many jobs on the market that provide higher pay are often on the lookout for fluent English speakers. In fact, English is the highest-demand language in India, followed closely by other foreign languages like Chinese, Arabic, and European languages like Spanish or French. In 2018, fluent English speakers could earn 11% more than the average national income. 

Sources: Education First, Mint, Times of India


India has one of the largest English-speaking populations in the world, and the most non native English speakers of all countries. Around 1 in 10 Indian people speak English, and the average proficiency level in the country is moderate.

In some parts of India, a third or more of the local population speaks fluent English, considerably more than the national average. This is especially the case in the more urbanized areas and among upper-class and high-income groups, especially in cities like Mumbai and Jaipur.


How many languages are spoken in India?

India is a big country with a large population of multilingual people. There are hundreds of languages spoken throughout the country, and many Indians know two to three languages, sometimes more. 

The most widely spoken language in India is Hindi, and its speakers make up the majority of the population. English is the second most widely spoken language, followed by Bengali. Of all spoken languages, English and Hindi are the most popular choices as a lingua franca throughout the country.

Is English an official language in India?

Yes! The Constitution of India recognizes 23 official languages, and English is among them. Hindi is the primary language, spoken by the majority of Indians and used as an official language throughout India. Other official languages like Bengali, Tamil, Punjabi, and others are more common in smaller states and territories.

Out of India’s 23 official languages, English is the only non-scheduled language. The 22 scheduled languages of India enjoy special recognition and legal status, and their use in education is highly encouraged. English is mostly viewed as a co-official language of the Indian government but doesn’t receive the same cultural support.

Why is English spoken in India so different?

Most of the differences between Indian English and other varieties of modern English come from the historical interaction between British English and local Indian languages. The legacy of English in India dates back to the 19th century. Simply put, India had a lot of time to develop its own English dialect, compared to other countries without a colonial history.

Indian English and other varieties of English are mutually intelligible. Indian English is based on British English, so the two varieties share a lot of similarities. However, Indian English has its own phonological characteristics, as well as a slightly different vocabulary and number system.