If you are a parent of a child in primary school, you will probably be becoming aware of the increased focus on grammar and punctuation contained in the new National Curriculum. Your child’s school may have provided information about the new English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests which Year 2 and Year 6 children will be taking next summer. Depending upon when and where you went to school, you may find the information coming from school (and the terminology being used by your child) challenging. Whether you are bewildered by the terminology used or just want to know a little more to support your child, I hope you will find this blog useful. You can click on the Parent’s Start Page to link to information about different areas of grammar and punctuation. Alternatively, enter a term in the search bar or click on a word in the cloud of labels. If you have further queries, get in touch and I will try to help where I can.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Nouns and noun phrases in Year 1

2014 National curriculum requirements for Year 1 children relating to nouns
Terminology used in Year 1
Regular plural noun suffixes –s or –es [for example, dog, dogs; wish, wishes], including the effects of these suffixes on the meaning of the noun

How the prefix un– changes the meaning of verbs and adjectives [negation, for example, unkind, or undoing: untie the boat]

Although children in year 1 are not required to use the terminology noun and adjective, it is likely that teachers will start using these terms to help pupils develop their sentence writing. 

Teachers will focus on building children’s repertoire of nouns, making sure children understand what the word means, and then encouraging them to segment (sound out) the word so that they can use their phonic knowledge to spell the word.  Children will also start to use the terms singular and plural.  The Year 1 requirement to spell plurals correctly will be linked to their learning in phonics, so that they understand that nouns usually end in –s in the plural, but that there are certain nouns that will need –es for their plural spelling.  The rule for this is as follows:  The suffix –es is used after words ending in /s/, /ch/, /sh/ and /z/ and when ‘y’ is replaced by ‘i’.
  • bus/buses
  • church/churches
  • bush/bushes
  • buzz/buzzes
  • dolly/dollies
When children start to write sentences, there are lots of things for them to remember and try to focus on: forming the letters correctly, choosing the right words, spelling the words correctly, remembering finger-spaces, capital letters and full stops, keeping their writing on the line and the right size, etc.  They may have lots of ideas about what to write, but the quality of what they write rarely matches up to their spoken ideas.  Therefore, their first written sentences are likely to contain very basic noun phrases, often starting with ‘the’ or ‘a’, e.g. The boy, a dog.

During Foundation Stage and Year 1, children will be taught to read and write a number of words which can vary the starts to these noun phrases.  The table below contains many of these words, some of which can only be used with a singular noun, some with a plural noun and some with both singular and plural.  Your child should be encouraged to use these words as these will improve the variety in their writing and also reinforce the spelling of these (often very common) words.


You can use the table to create cards to match up to pictures of singular and plural nouns.  Discussing what the words mean and whether they can be matched with the nouns in the pictures will help your child develop understanding around their use.  Here is a picture to start you off.


  • the flowers
  • some flowers
  • many flowers
  • these flowers
  • my flowers
  • a rose
  • the rose
  • one rose
  • our rose

The above are all correct, but we couldn’t have:
  • a flowers
  • many fern
  • an leaves
In Year 1, children will also be encouraged to describe people, objects and places.  Much of this description will take place by creating spoken sentences.  Looking at a picture and choosing a noun to describe is a good way to start children build noun phrases.  In the picture above, you could ask your child to describe the rose.  How big is it? What colour is it?  They might describe it as ‘the pink rose’ or ‘the small rose’.  Could they put that noun phrase into a sentence? (The pink rose is in the garden.)

In that example, ‘pink’ and ‘small’ are adjectives, describing the noun ‘rose’.  In Year 1, we want to encourage children to use adjectives to describe the nouns they want to use in spoken and written language, even if they do not use the terms adjective and noun yet.

As children’s understanding of adjectives increases, we can start to introduce the second of the above National Curriculum requirements: using the prefix ‘un’ to change the meaning of an adjective.  For example, kind/unkind, happy/unhappy, sure/unsure.  Discussing these changes to the meaning of words will help children understand that this structure only works with certain adjectives, not all.  As with all work on grammar, it is a good idea for children to practise putting their examples into real sentences.  Teachers will also be linking this prefix to work on verbs.

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