This article ranks human languages by their number of native speakers.
However, all such rankings should be used with caution. It is difficult to define the difference between a language and a dialect, or between a language and a macrolanguage; for example, Chinese is sometimes considered a single language and sometimes a macrolanguage whose many varieties are all independent languages. Any division of speakers among languages is the result of the classification of these speakers. Often such classifications are based on political or cultural factors. Although such classifications are not entirely arbitrary, it is not possible to devise a coherent linguistic set of criteria for the boundaries between languages.
For a list of languages with the smallest numbers of native speakers, see lists of endangered languages.