Modern English (sometimes New English or NE as opposed to Middle English and Old English) is the form of the English language spoken since the Great Vowel Shift in England, which began in the late 14th century and was completed in roughly 1550.
With some differences in vocabulary, texts from the early 17th century, such as the works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible, are considered to be in Modern English, or more specifically, are referred to as using Early Modern English or Elizabethan English. English was adopted in regions around the world, such as North America, the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Australia and New Zealand through colonisation by the British Empire.
Modern English has a large number of dialects spoken in diverse countries throughout the world. This includes American English, Australian English, British English (containing English English, Welsh English and Scottish English), Canadian English, Caribbean English, Hiberno-English, Indian English, Pakistani English, Nigerian English, New Zealand English, Philippine English, Singaporean English, and South African English.
According to the Ethnologue, there are almost 1 billion speakers of English as a first or second language. English is spoken as a first or a second language in a large number of countries, with the largest number of native speakers being in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand; there are also large populations in India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Southern Africa. It “has more non-native speakers than any other language, is more widely dispersed around the world and is used for more purposes than any other language”. Its large number of speakers, plus its worldwide presence, have made English a common language “of the airlines, of the sea and shipping, of computer technology, of science and indeed of communication generally”.