Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Knowledge of official languages

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: August 17, 2022


Knowledge of official languages refers to whether the person can conduct a conversation in English only, French only, in both or in neither language. For a child who has not yet learned to speak, this includes languages that the child is learning to speak at home.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021, 2016 and 2011 (100% data); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981 (20% sample). For availability prior to 1981, please refer to Appendix 2.1.

Reported for

Total population

Question number(s)

Direct variable: Question 8


Response categories included a mark‑in circle for "English only," "French only," "Both English and French" and "Neither English nor French."


In the 2021 Census of Population, the question about knowledge of official languages asked "Can this person speak English or French well enough to conduct a conversation?"

The following additional instructions on how to complete the 2021 question on knowledge of official languages were provided to respondents via a help button accessible in the electronic questionnaire:

For more information on language variables, including information on their classifications, the questions from which they are derived, data quality and their comparability with other sources of data, please refer to the Languages Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.

Related 2021 data products

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