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Common Words

What are common words?

Common words are one of the main types of sight words and are those words which occur most frequently in written material, for example, "and", "the", "as" and "it". Some of the common words can be sounded out using basic phonic rules, for example, "it" is an easy word to read using phonics. However, many of the common words are not phonically regular and are therefore hard to read in the early stages.


Some common words are called tricky words. In addition to being difficult to sound out, most of these high frequency words have a rather abstract meaning which is hard to explain to children. It's easy to learn words like "cat" and "house" because they can easily be related to a real object or a picture, but representing the words "the" or "of" is tricky because there's no point of reference.


Why are common words important?

Common words are, as you'd expect, words that you come across frequently. This means that when children are reading, they'll see lots of these common words. Therefore, it's important that children are able to read these words and pronounce them correctly. 

Did you know that there are 16 words which make up around a quarter of every piece of writing, for both adults and children? Words such as 'he' 'and' 'I' and more tricky words such as 'you' 'said' and 'she' are everywhere when we write and read. Recognising and being able to read common words gives children more confidence. If a child can already recognise a quarter of the words in a text, they are more likely to want to keep reading. Being able to read and recognise these words can begin to make reading and writing less daunting to children during the early stages of their educational journey.

Ways to help your child recognise the common words.


Ask them to find a given word in their reading book. How many times can they find the word in the book?


Make flashcards and show them regularly to your child. 


Play bingo: you can make a simple game by writing some of the common words in a grid. Say a word and your child can colour it in. Bingo when they get a row of words. 


You can find some simple songs on you tube, to help your child learn to read and write the common and tricky words.




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