What are high-frequency words?

As children learn to read and write, they may be asked to practise their high-frequency words. But what exactly are they? And why are they so important?

Below, we break down what high-frequency words are, take a look at a few examples of them, and outline just how helpful learning them can be!

What are high-frequency words?

High-frequency words (HFW) are the words that appear most commonly in the English language.

These words may not mean much on their own, but they’re really important in adding meaning and context to sentences. We use them all the time in our reading and writing, often without thinking about it!

A child may be able to sound out some of them, such as ‘at’, ‘in’ or ‘he’, but some are not decodable through phonics, such as ‘said’, ‘are’ or ‘Mr’. 

Research has suggested that there are just sixteen words that will make up a quarter of the words in a text, regardless of whether it’s been written for an adult or a child.

Examples of high-frequency words

Some examples of high-frequency words include:

  • And
  • The
  • At
  • A
  • Said
  • In

For even more examples, why not download our free 100 high-frequency word list? It’s the perfect way to help your child learn even more high-frequency words!

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Why are high-frequency words so important? 

  • Recognising and being able to read high-frequency words give children lots of confidence: if they can already recognise a quarter of the words in a piece of text, they’re more likely to want to keep reading.
  • In comparison, if they don’t recognise those words, they’ll have to work much harder at sounding out the words, and are more likely to become discouraged.

Basically, by recognising the high-frequency words, a child already has some very strong building blocks for reading under their belt!

My child has learnt their 100 high-frequency words. What next?

After children have learned the first 100 high-frequency words, they’ll be introduced to the next 200 high-frequency words.

  • By the end of Year 2, most children should know all of these words, as they will then be introduced to the Year 3/4 statutory spelling words.
  • Why not download our free 200 high-frequency word list to help your child learn these words?

Explore high-frequency words with DoodleEnglish

What are high-frequency words?

Looking for fun ways to learn high-frequency words? DoodleEnglish boosts the confidence of your child by creating them a personalised work programme tailored to their needs.

Designed to be used for 10 minutes a day, it’s filled with interactive exercises and educational games covering the topic, transforming learning into an exciting adventure!

Or discover DoodleEnglish for schools

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