Grammar & punctuation in Year 2 (age 6–7)
In Year 2, your child will use a range of grammar and punctuation in their writing. Your child’s teacher will read samples of their writing to assess their knowledge and understanding. Schools may also use an optional grammar, punctuation and spelling test to check that your child is doing as well as expected.
Read on to discover the National Curriculum expectations for grammar and punctuation in Year 2, and to find out how you can support your child at home.
What your child will learn
Take a look at the National Curriculum expectations for grammar and punctuation in Year 2 (age 6–7):
Using capital letters, full stops, question marks and exclamation marks
Capital letters are used at the beginning of sentences and at the beginning of proper nouns (proper nouns are names, like ‘Anne’ or ‘Scotland’).
Sentences end with different punctuation marks depending on their meaning. A full stop is used at the end of a statement, a question mark is used at the end of a question, and an exclamation mark is used an the end of an exclamation to show emphasis, humour or strong emotion.
Joining clauses using a range of conjunctions
A conjunction is a word that links two words or phrases together, such as ‘and’, ‘but’, and ‘because’. In Year 2, your child might use these words to make longer sentences, such as ‘James bought a bat and ball’ or ‘Joe can’t practise kicking because he is injured’.
Your child will learn how to use different conjunctions to express different meanings. For example, ‘Tom brought his boots and so did Ali’ compared to ‘Tom brought his boots but Ali forgot’.
Knowing the four types of sentence: statements, questions, exclamations and commands
There are four types of sentence: statements, questions, commands and exclamations. Each is structured differently and serves a different purpose.
A statement shares (or declares) information or an opinion. Statements tell you about something: ‘Kate was running late.’
A question is a sentence that seeks information. We generally ask questions to find something out: ‘Why are you late, Kate?’ Questions are punctuated with a question mark at the end of the sentence.
An exclamation expresses how strongly we feel about something. We might be showing horror, astonishment, surprise, sadness or joy. In English grammar, an exclamation usually begins with the words ‘what’ or ‘how’: ‘What a fun sentence!’
A command is sometimes called a directive. They tell the reader to do something, often giving orders or instructions: ‘Hurry up and sit down, Kate.’
Using the present tense and past tense correctly and consistently
The tense we write or speak in tells us when something took place. In English, the verbs in a sentence change form to show when something happened. For example, ‘The dog ran across the field’ is in the past tense of ‘The dog runs across the field’.
In Year 2, your child should be aiming to write in the present or past tense consistently. This means writing in the same tense across an entire piece of writing, not changing from one to the other.
Using the progressive form of verbs in the present and past tense
The progressive form (sometimes known as the ‘continuous form’) of a verb is used to show that an event is happening now and that it is ongoing.
The progressive form of a verb is made by combining the present tense form of a verb (for example, ‘singing’) with a form of the word be (often ‘was’ or ‘were’). For example, ‘he was singing’ or ‘the class were singing’.
Using suffixes such as –ness or –er to form nouns
Nouns are often called ‘naming words’. At their simplest level, nouns are the words used to name people, places and things. For example, ‘teacher’, ‘France’, and ‘apple’ are all nouns.
A suffix is a group of letters that can be added to the end of a word to alter the meaning. Here, the suffix is used to change a word into a noun. For example, ‘happy’ (an adjective) might change to ‘happiness’ (a noun), and ‘run’ (a verb) might change to ‘runner’ (a noun).
Using expanded noun phrases
Sometimes more than one word does the job of a noun. This is called a noun phrase. The simplest example of a noun phrase is where a determiner tells us which noun we are referring to or how many or much there is. For example, ‘that parcel’, ‘three cows’, or ‘some porridge’.
If we want to add a little bit more information, then we can turn it into an expanded noun phrase. For example: ‘that big parcel’ or ‘the porridge that I cooked earlier’. Each of these noun phrases does the job of a noun, naming something, even though there are several words in the phrase.
Using suffixes such as –ful or –less to form adjectives
Adjectives are often called ‘describing words’. At their simplest level, adjectives are the words that are used to describe a noun, giving more details about it. For example, ‘The pot is big‘.
A suffix is a group of letters that can be added to the end of a word to alter the meaning. Here, the suffix is used to change a word into an adjective. For example, ‘beauty’ (a noun) might change to ‘beautiful’ (an adjective) or ‘help’ (a noun) might change to ‘helpless’ (an adjective).
Using the suffixes –er or –est in adjectives and –ly to turn adjectives into adverbs
A suffix is a group of letters that can be added to the end of a word to alter the meaning. The suffix –er at the end of an adjective shows the word is being used to compare two things: ‘the second bird was bigger‘ or ‘his voice was louder than Sam’s’. This is called a comparative adjective
The suffix –est at the end of an adjective shows the word is being used to compare more than two things: ‘it was the biggest sandwich he had ever seen’ or ‘her voice was the loudest in the school’. This is called a superlative adjective.
An adverb is a word that describes or gives more detail about a verb, such as ‘happily’ or ‘slowly’. Here, the suffix –ly is used to change an adjective into an adverb. For example, ‘quiet’ (an adjective) might change to ‘quietly’ (an adverb), or ‘quick’ (an adjective) might change to ‘quickly’ (an adverb).
Using commas to separate items in a list
Where there are more than two items in a list, the different items should be separated by a comma. For example, ‘He bought bread, butter, jam and milk.’
Using apostrophes to mark where letters are missing and to mark singular possession
There are two main purposes for using apostrophes.
The first is showing the place of missing letters. For example, the apostrophe in ‘I’m’ replaces the ‘a’ in ‘I am’ and the apostrophe in ‘shouldn’t’ replaces the ‘o’ in ‘should not’.
The second purpose is to show possession, meaning who or what something belongs to. For example, ‘Paul’s bike’ or ‘the girl’s voice’.
How to help at home
There are lots of ways you can help your Year 2 child with grammar and punctuation. Here are our top ideas.
1. Read to your child
Your child will learn about how language works by speaking and listening, but the type of language we use in writing is often different from that used in speech. Reading regularly to your child therefore helps them develop vocabulary and understanding far beyond what they could pick up just from spoken language. Longer chapter books they might not be able to read themselves yet are especially good for stretching their learning.
You can find lots of free reads for your child on the Oxford Owl eBook library.
2. Encourage reading
Making time to hear your child read isn’t just good for their reading. By frequently seeing words in print, they will have the opportunity to see how the punctuation and grammar are used to share meaning.
When you read, occasionally look at the punctuation and talk about what it is telling the reader to do. For example, you could show your child how a question mark tells you to raise your voice at the end of the sentence to indicate a question being asked.
Try exploring how you can show the ‘feeling’ behind an exclamation mark. Are the characters shouting? Has something unexpected happened? Has something gone wrong?
3. Give your child opportunities to write
Writing for a real purpose can be a great way to practise using grammar and punctuation. Writing cards, shopping lists, or letters and emails to relatives can all be motivating, real-life reasons to write. Your child might enjoy keeping a diary or writing short stories based on books they have read or toys they like playing with.
4. Help your child learn key grammatical ideas
Activity sheets and books can help your child get to grips with particular points of grammar and punctuation. Take a look at our grammar activity books for some practical ideas.
5. Play games
Playing games can help children to learn about grammar and punctuation in an enjoyable way. Watch grammar expert Charlotte Raby’s ‘How can I help my child with grammar, punctuation and spelling?’ video playlist to see some quick and easy games in action:
Charlotte Raby offers her expert advice for helping your child develop their grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills at home.