Mil Palabras is a unique forum. It is a forum for learning Spanish by communicating in Spanish, with other learners, on conversational topics. It is unique in that the software requires you to use common words; using common words allows other intermediate level users to read what you write, and helps ensure that you can read what others write.
As you write, the forum's editer provides interactive assistance on what words are available, and color-codes non-permissible words. Allowed words include the one thousand most commonly used words in Spanish.
There are many websites and other resources for beginners learning their first hundred words in Spanish. There are also many resources for advanced students; practically every Spanish language website is a learning opportunity.
In between, resources for students who know a few hundred words and basic grammar but who need practice in conversational context are scarce.
This web application hopes to help with that third group, helping people with minimal conversational ability practice and improve, in a casual interpersonal style.
I am a native speaker of English who has studied Spanish for years. I have taken two years of community college Spanish, experienced a month of Spanish cultural immersion education in Mexico, and worked a month on hurricane relief in Puerto Rico (all of this years ago) but still seem mediocre at Spanish.
I hope to improve my Spanish here, practicing with you.
The language database is from wiktionary.com: [link]
That list was collected from a large database of movie and television subtitles. So while it is a text database, the frequency counts reflect usage in spoken Spanish.
The source listed words by their form in usage, so for example, there are separate entries for singular and plural, for masculine and feminine forms of adjectives, etc. For our purposes, the lemma (canonical form) was identified for each entry, and each lemma was expanded to create a consistent set of permissible words. Each noun is included in singular and plural forms, each adjective is in masculine and feminine forms, singular and pluralized, and each verb is conjugated for the simpler tenses.
There are 1000 lemmas, and just over 7,000 total entries.
If Randall Monroe can describe a very technical topic using only the one thousand most commonly used English words, then we can chit chat about more mundane things using the same quantity of Spanish words. No?