English sight words

English sight words or high frequency words

English sight words are common words that occur more frequently in English text. They are also called high frequency words.

Here are some key facts about sight words:

  • Sight words have irregular spelling patterns.
  • They cannot be sounded out using decoding skills (phonics).
  • They are difficult to represent with pictures.
  • They account for 50 to 75% of the words in children’s beginning reading.
  • Most of sight words are short grammatical words like pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and common verbs.


Read the summary of the research work of Dennis J. Kear and Marsha A. Gladhart (1983) entitled “Comparative Study to Identify High-Frequency Words in Printed Materials”:
As sight words account for a large percentage of the words used in children’s beginning print materials, knowing sight words instills confidence in children when learning to read. These words give them confidence to read the words that can be decoded and help children to become fluent readers. Sight words are part of early reading literacy programme.



How to teach sight words?

  •  Many of these words cannot be learned phonemically. Thus, children are expected to memorize them so that they can read such words fluently and automatically at first sight.
  • Make flashcards with sight words and let the children repeat the sight words several times.
  • Have them use these words in sentences so that they can understand the meaning.
  • Present the words in crossword puzzles and let the children find and read them.
  • Let them read the story with sight words.
  • Use games, multi-sensory activities and fun activities to help them learn the sight words.
  • Let the children read these as whole words so they are read automatically at first sight.
  • Always praise children for learning each sight word correctly.


There are different sight words for every grade level. Teachers and schools have prepared their owns lists, however, most sight word lists are comprised of words that are found on the Dolch List of Basic Sight Words and Fry’s 300 Instant Sight Words.

Dolch word list

The Dolch word list was prepared by a famous beginning reading instructor Edward William Dolch in 1936 and was originally published in his book Problems in Reading in 1948.


  • Pre-primer: a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you
    Primer: all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, but, came, did, do, eat, four, get, good, have, he, into, like, must, new, no, now, on, our, out, please, pretty, ran, ride, saw, say, she, so, soon, that, there, they, this, too, under, want, was, well, went, what, white, who, will, with, yes
  • First Grade: after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, giving, had, has, her, him, his, how, just, know, let, live, may, of, old, once, open, over, put, round, some, stop, take, thank, them, then, think, walk, were, when
  • Second Grade: always, around, because, been, before, best, both, buy, call, cold, does, don’t, fast, first, five, found, gave, goes, green, its, made, many, off, or, pull, read, right, sing, sit, sleep, tell, their, these, those, upon, us, use, very, wash, which, why, wish, work, would, write, your
  • Third Grade: about, better, bring, carry, clean, cut, done, draw, drink, eight, fall, far, full, got, grow, hold, hot, hurt, if, keep, kind, laugh, light, long, much, myself, never, only, own, pick, seven, shall, show, six, small, start, ten, today, together, try, warm


apple, baby, back, ball, bear, bed, bell, bird, birthday, boat, box, boy, bread, brother, cake, car, cat, chair, chicken, children, Christmas, coat, corn, cow, day, dog, doll, door, duck, egg, eye, farm, farmer, father, feet, fire, fish, floor, flower, game, garden, girl, good-bye, grass, ground, hand, head, hill, home, horse, house, kitty, leg, letter, man, men, milk, money, morning, mother, name, nest, night, paper, party, picture, pig, rabbit, rain, ring, robin, Santa Claus, school, seed, sheep, shoe, sister, snow, song, squirrel, stick, street, sun, table, thing, time, top, toy, tree, watch, water, way, wind, window, wood

Fry’s 300 Instant Sight Words


Sight words for Kindergartens (another list)






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