ABSTRACT:  This paper considers the problems, the properties, and the prospects of using ‘English as a lingua franca’ as a construct and as a reality. It will therefore focus on what is meant by the term ‘lingua franca’, what is represented as a ‘lingua franca’, and what the debates are about English as a lingua franca. The point of departure is Kachru's description of English as a lingua franca as ‘a communicative tool of immense power’. How this tool is used in the Outer Circle and elsewhere has been addressed elsewhere, but the discussion is an attempt to examine the issues in Singapore, where English has indeed become an international lingua franca as well as a national lingua franca for Singaporeans. The hope is that this paper will contribute to the ongoing dialog by asking questions rather than offering definitive answers to a very complex emergent phenomenon: the character and traits of English as a lingua franca in the 21st century and the sociolinguistic realities of its existence.