Abbey Road, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 1JU

01271 342579

Pilton Infants' School

Learning For Life

Jargon Buster – English

At the request of some of our parents, we have put together a guide to some of the terms your child might use in their English lessons.  There is a brief explanation of the term and some examples. 

Feel free to speak to Mrs Ruddick in Fox Class if you would like some further clarification or if you hear a term that your child uses which you would like explained.  

Phonics and spellings

Phonics – the way we teach children about letters and the sounds they make in different words.

Phoneme – a unit of sound.  The number of phonemes or sounds in a word is not always the same as the number of letters.   For example, the word ‘sheep’ has 5 letters but only 3 phonemes

           sh - ee - p.

Grapheme – a letter or group of letters.

Digraph – this is when two letters work together to make one sound.  For example, the word ‘church’ has 3 digraphs ch – ur - ch.   There are lots of digraphs which the children learn at school.  Here are just a few examples: 

            ee in meet, ea in beans, oo in spoon, oi in coin, or in fork.            

Trigraph - this is when three letters work together to make one sound.  For example, the word ‘light’ has a trigraph in it: l - igh - t.   There are quite a few trigraphs that the children learn at school. Here are a few examples:

             ear in fear,  air in chair,  ure in sure.

Split digraph – This is a digraph that is split round another letter.  For example:  

           oe in toe can be split around  letter ‘p’ to make hope

           ie in pie can be split around the letter ‘t’ to make bite

                Others include a- e in cake, e-e in Steve and u-e in tune.

Vowel - The vowels are a, e, i, o, u.  They can also be represented by two or more letters e.g. vowel digraphs include:

                 ai in rain, ea in beach and ay in day.

          Vowel sounds can sometimes be represented by the letter  e.g. gym, funny, sky.

Consonants - These are all other letters of the alphabet.  

Short vowel sounds:  a, e, i, o and u when they make their sound. 

                                   For example: a in ‘cat’

                                                        u in ‘up’

                                                        e in ‘pet’

                                                        i in ‘pick’

                                                        o in ‘dog’

Knowing the short vowel sounds is very handy for learning some spellings rules.



Suffix – This is something that can be added on to a word to change tense or word type.  For example, ful in wonderful, ly in carefully, ed in walked, ment in improvement, ing in going, est in coolest.

Noun – we teach this as something you can have e.g.  I can have a lolly/ headache/ prize/ present/ thought.

Noun Phrase - A group of words to describe a noun.  For example, his lolly, the pink lolly, the lolly with 100s and 1000s on it, my melting lolly.

Singular – one of something.  For example, a fox, the field, my brother, one biscuit.

Plural – more than one.  You usually add s or es to a singular noun.  For example, two foxes, my brothers, some biscuits, the fields.   Sometimes there are nouns which do not follow this pattern e.g. lots of children, twenty sheep.

  Year 2s also learn that words ending in y change to 'i' when adding more suffixes e.g.  baby - babies, strawberry - strawberries.

Verb - in Year 1 this is taught as a 'doing word'. In Year 2 the children learn more about verbs and are taught that verbs are we being,                    doing or having.  For example,

I am happy.

He goes to the park.

She ate her breakfast and drank her milk.

After lunch, Grandpa slept in his chair.

Every day, I have cereal for breakfast.

Present tense - this indicates something that is happening now e.g. I brush my teeth or I am going to school.

Past tense - this indicated something that has already happened e.g. I stayed up late or I went swimming.  Children need to understand                          the past isn't always 'long ago' or 'in the olden days' but can be something that happened a few minutes ago.