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English: Age 9–10 (Year 5)


Year 5 is often a calm and studious year: a year to embed all of the knowledge learnt in lower Key Stage 2, and to start preparations for the transition to secondary school.

Your child will be encouraged to take more responsibility for their own learning. Your child will be reading more books that they have chosen themselves, and will write across a wide range of topics (including what they are learning in other subjects, like space). Elements of punctuation like hyphens and colons are introduced, and they will learn new features of grammar like modal verbs.

How to help at home

There are a variety of simple things you can do at home to support your child’s developing English skills.

1. Continue to make time to read to your child as often as they will let you, or listen to books read aloud. This will support their vocabulary and comprehension skills. Talk about any new vocabulary that you come across – and use it together later.

2. Encourage your child to read as much as possible – seeing words in print really helps children to absorb correct spelling and grammar. Encourage them to be brave about their choices and try both fiction and non-fiction.

3. Listen to your child read as often as possible. Try to read their school reading book as well as other books they have chosen for themselves. Occasionally, without slowing the story too much, ask them to point out modal verbs, adverbs that show how likely something is to happen, clauses starting with who, which, where, when, whose or that, and clauses separated out with brackets, dashes, or commas.

When reading non-fiction, ask your child to point out headings, captions and key words.

4. Practise spellings. Continue to help your child practise their weekly spelling words. See our Twelve tips for weekly spellings page for more ideas.

Print out and work on the Spelling word list for Year 5 and Year 6.

5. Create writing opportunities, such as mini non-fiction books, stories and graphic novels. Writing at home is a great way of practising writing, including using grammar and punctuation to create a particular effect. Ask them to tell you stories they have made up or to retell favourite or well-known tales or personal anecdotes.

Help them to find story inspiration from a wide range of sources: objects they find, places they visit, unusual real lives, superhero comics they’ve read, television programmes they’ve watched and so on.

For more ideas on writing stories, look at the Creative Writing section on the Kids Activities pages.

6. Encourage your child to talk to you. Gently correct any grammar mistakes, and help them to extend what they say with conjunctions such as because, after or where. Challenge them to use new vocabulary and to retell stories to you with interesting characters and well-constructed plots.

7. Keep talking to your child and use interesting vocabulary as you do so. Model and discuss the different way we talk in different situations.

8. Keep practising handwriting – support your child as they continue to improve their handwriting. Intervene with extra practise if your child has not cracked clear handwriting.

What your child will learn

Follow the links below to find out more about how English is taught in Year 5:

Grammar & punctuation in Year 5 (age 9–10)

In Year 5, your child will learn to:
    • Create verbs by adding the suffixes -ate, –ise, -ify, for example, considerate, activate, specialise, advertise, horrify, purify
    • Use relative clauses (clauses that begin who, which, where, when, whose or that) to add more information about a noun to a sentence, for example:

      ‘The film that I watched was terrible.’
      ‘Sam won the prize, which upset Tash.’

    • Use modal verbs, for example, would, should, could, will, may, might, shall or must to show how likely something is to happen
    • Use adverbs, for example, definitely, certainly, clearly, obviously, possibly or maybe to show how likely something is to happen
    • Use different ways to make the information in a paragraph flow
    • Use brackets, dashes or commas to separate out extra information in a sentence, for example:

      Mount Everest (the highest mountain in the world) is in the Himalayas.
      Mount Everest – the highest mountain in the world – is in the Himalayas.
      Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is in the Himalayas.

    • Use commas to make sentences clearer, for example:

      ‘We had chocolate, cookies and jellies at the party.’
      instead of
      ‘We had chocolate cookies and jellies at the party.’

Grammar books for age 9-10:

Spelling in Year 5 (age 9–10)

In Year 5, your child will learn:
    • to spell words with silent letters, for example, doubt, island, lamb, solemn, thistle, knight
    • to spell words ending in ence/ance or able/ible
    • to spell more homophones and other confusing words

Year 5 and 6 homophones list

aisle/isle, aloud/allowed, affect/effect, altar/alter, ascent/assent, bridal/bridle, cereal/serial, compliment/complement, descent/dissent, desert/dessert, draft/draught, farther/further/father, guessed/guest, heard/herd, led/lead, morning/mourning, past/passed, precede/proceed, principal/principle, profit/prophet, stationary/stationery, steal/steel, wary/weary, who’s/whose

    • to talk about word families, for example, sign, design, signature, significant
    • to use a thesaurus to find new words
    • to use a dictionary to check their spelling
    • to spell the words in the Spelling word list for Year 5 and Year 6
Spelling books for age 9-10:

Writing in Year 5 (age 9–10)

In Year 5, your child will learn to:
    • decide who they are writing for and what this means for their writing
    • plan their writing before they start
    • choose the right style and structure to match the type of text they are writing
    • choose the right vocabulary and grammar for their writing
    • write a story with interesting vocabulary and dialogue
    • write non-fiction with features such as headings, captions, bullet points, subheadings and diagrams
    • use a consistent tense throughout their piece
    • check their own writing and the writing of their classmates, making useful comments.

More information and writing activity ideas for Year 5

Handwriting in Year 5 (age 9–10)

In Year 5, your child will develop fluent, joined-up writing. This includes:
    • deciding whether or not to join specific letters
    • keeping letters of a consistent size
    • choosing whether it is best to write with a pen or a pencil.
Handwriting practise activities:

For more information on skills taught throughout Primary School, check out our vocabulary page.