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 Class 6 if you would like some further clarification or if you hear a term that your child uses which you would like explained on here please let Mrs Ruddick know.  

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 loads 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 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.

Verb - we teach this as a word which is 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.

Children need to know when a word that looks like a verb is actually performing a different function.  For example, in the following sentence 'running' is not a verb but an adjective as it describes the shoes.

She had PE so she wore her running shoes.