What are ‘high frequency’ words?

High frequency words (HFW) are words which appear most commonly in the English language. 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 which will make up a quarter of the words in a text, regardless of whether it has been written for an adult or a child.


Why are ‘high frequency words’ so important? First_100_High_Frequency_List_DoodleEnglish@2x

Recognising and being able to read high frequency words give 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. In comparison, if they don’t recognise those words, they will have to work much harder at sounding out words and are 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.

Download the first 100 high frequency word list here

My child has learnt their 100 HFW. What next?

After children have learned the first 100 high frequency words, they will 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.

Download the next 200 high frequency word list here


Next week we’ll be exploring ways in which you can help your child learn these important words. Make sure to come back to check it out!


Article by Emma at DoodleEnglish.

Happy Doodling!


Article by:
DoodleEnglish Team

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