The average 20-year-old knows between 27,000 and 52,000 different words. Spoken out loud, most of these words last less than a second. With every word, the brain has a quick decision to make: which of those thousands of options matches the signal? And about 98% of the time, the brain chooses the correct word. How is this possible? Gareth Gaskell digs into the complexities of speech comprehension.