Handbook of Language and Literacy Development - a Roadmap from 0 to 60 Months

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Vocabulary Development (0-60 Months)click to print Print
Research Review / Parent

Written by: Andrew Biemiller, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

The Importance of the Number of Words Known by Age Five for Later School Achievement

Children who do not know many words by the end of kindergarten often have poor reading comprehension in later grades. By the time children begin kindergarten, they have already acquired much of their language. They speak in sentences and they understand simple stories and simple explanations. By 5 years of age, most children probably know more than one or two thousand root word meanings.

Root words are words with simple meanings—for example, red, run, fair. In addition, there are derived words which have added prefixes or suffixes—for example, redder, running, fairly. Most children learn to understand derived words, if they know the related root word.

Children may differ a lot in the number of words they know at the beginning of kindergarten. Why do children differ so much in the number of words they know? How do these differences come about? Children's age when they start kindergarten can make a big difference to the number of words they know. The youngest kindergartners are 20 percent younger than the oldest kindergartners. There are also differences in the number of vocabulary words they know. The size of children's vocabulary is related to the size of their parents' vocabulary. Children growing up in a non-English-speaking family may have difficulties in English. Let us consider briefly the range of language differences at the beginning of school, language growth, and some of the early influences on language growth.

An Overview of Vocabulary Development in the First Five Years

I estimate that by the beginning of kindergarten, children's vocabulary size ranges from 2300 root word meanings (average for children with low vocabularies) to 4700 root word meanings (average for children with high vocabularies).

During the grades from kindergarten to grade two, the difference between children with small and large vocabularies continues to get larger. By the end of grade two, children in the low vocabulary group average 4000 root word meanings, children in the average vocabulary group know about 6000 meanings, and children in the large vocabulary group average 8000 meanings. These large vocabulary differences have developed before children have had much of an opportunity to build vocabulary from their own reading. Beginning readers (kindergarten-grade two) mainly read "primer" texts using relatively few words.

Thus, some children begin school with small vocabularies, and their vocabulary disadvantage becomes greater during the primary grades. Reducing or eliminating this early vocabulary difference between low- and high-vocabulary children should help improve disadvantaged children's chances of achieving well in school.

We might hope that once children enter school at age 4 or 5, there would be more opportunities for less advantaged children to build vocabulary—even to "catch up" with more advantaged children. Unfortunately, at present there is little evidence that school experience helps build vocabulary—especially in the kindergarten to grade two years. This lack of school influence on vocabulary development probably reflects the fact that there is little instruction for vocabulary.

In the next sections, I will discuss how word meanings are learned in the early years and how home and group care influences affect the number of word meanings children come to know. In addition, I will discuss things that might increase vocabulary in the early years. I will also discuss what word meanings might be emphasized by parents and teachers, particularly for children whose language development is at risk. I conclude that more should be done to promote vocabulary during the first five years of children's language and literacy development.

How Word Meanings are Learned

In this section, I discuss how words are learned and how some children come to know many more words than other children. I will also discuss how home differences and child-care interventions affect word development.

Processes

Word form and word meaning. A "word form" is the spoken, heard and remembered word. Word meaning is the knowledge (stored experience) that is connected to the word form and remembered when a word form is heard. A "word" is the combined word form and meaning. About one third of the word forms likely to be known by age 5 have more than one word meaning. Here is an example: bank—where money is kept, and bank—land along a river or stream.

"Fast-mapping" meanings. Some years ago a researcher, Susan Carey, introduced the concept of "fast-mapping" word learning. She observed that preschool children could very quickly acquire a meaning for a new word but took much longer to have a relatively complete understanding of the word. I suspect that when children are aware of both a novel word form and word meaning at the same time, children can sometimes "map" or establish a connection between the form and meaning very quickly. This situation—simultaneous presence of word form and meaning—can occur either as a result of direct explanation by a parent or teacher or as a result of naturally occurring conversation or story reading.

When are meanings mapped? Are words learned as a result of explanations by others? Are words learned from children's intentional efforts to figure out word meanings? Do children ever acquire word meanings without conscious intentional efforts?

It has been argued that vocabulary development is largely a matter of "unintended" inference—simply as new words are encountered while reading. Vocabulary development by inference is argued because it seems that children must also learn words as they hear them generally when others are speaking or reading. There are differences among children in their ability to learn new words without explanations. These differences partly reflect their already-learned vocabulary – the more words children know the better they can infer new word meanings. However, research on word acquisition in the preschool period has described mainly adult and child conversations in which specific meanings are explained by adults or a situation clearly provides a child with an opportunity to connect a word form-word meaning association with something they are either seeing, touching, tasting, or hearing

Adult to child language explanations include pointing to objects while naming them; highlighting action; and adults saying words when a child is attending to an object. According to Katherine Nelson, adults often try to guess what a child is focused on and supply the appropriate word.

Children can clearly have an opportunity to learn a word when a parent labels an object while handing the object to a child (for example, "Kim, have a banana"). Similarly, "overhearing" explanations given to a child (for example, "a lemon is yellow and an orange is orange, the lemon is smaller than an orange, both are citrus fruits"), and other instances.

Sources of Differences in Word Acquisition

Have some children been advantaged by heredity and that this accounts for observed differences? Alternatively, have some children been advantaged by circumstances—by the family, community, and education system in which they grow up—and that this advantage accounts for observed differences?

It is clear that both biological differences in children (nature) and differences in children's experience (nurture) have substantial impacts on how rapidly a child's language develops. There is clear evidence that different children's environments are associated with large differences in children's language and vocabulary. There is also evidence that fairly simple programs in day care and primary classrooms can double normal vocabulary growth rates (to be discussed further on, Vocabulary: Acquisition in Group Care or School Settings)

Language growth does not simply follow a biologically programmed schedule. Let us consider briefly some of the factors influencing language and vocabulary growth.

Person Characteristics (Talent): The Role of Biological Differences (Nurture)

To learn words easily, children must be able to form "phonological files" that is, store information in the brain that allows a person to hear, remember, and repeat the sounds of an unfamiliar word. In addition, a child must connect the word-form and its meaning.

Meanings also involve mental files so to speak (stored information). Meaning files must either form easily or already exist when a new "word" is learned. For example, an infant may already have a mental file about cups when she first learns the word, "cup". Something like files are established for objects within the first month of life. Learning the meaning of the word, "cup" simply involves connecting the word-form "cup" to the already-learned non-verbal mental information file on cups.
On the other hand, when the word "fair" is learned, a complex meaning concept about "fair" and "unfair" social events is probably gradually constructed. It is unlikely that a non-verbal mental file on fairness exists prior to encountering "fair" in verbal interaction. At some point, a completely different meaning is also learned about a "fair" as a place where farm goods are shown and often other entertainment is available.

There are probably biological factors affecting both the ease of forming word-sound files and the ease of forming meaning files and connections. Thus, it is not surprising that young children with a strong command of word sounds develop larger vocabularies than comparable children with less strong word sound skills. In addition, an adequate working memory is also necessary. Children must be able to attend to a word form and the word form's meaning at the same time if word form and word meaning are to be connected.

Much more could be said of biological factors influencing language growth, but these examples should be enough to show that such biological characteristics have an effect. To a large extent, the effect of biological factors is to increase or decrease the rate or ease of word learning. In short, there is reasonable evidence for the existence of a biologically-based "talent" for learning words and language. However, the number of words children learn will be greatly influenced by a combination of this potential learning rate and the opportunities children have for learning language.

The Role of Experience (Nurture)

It is not news that children who grow up in low income and poorly educated families often have smaller vocabularies than their more advantaged classmates. These differences are clearly apparent by the time children start school. However, family income and education are blurry indicators for what must be a combination of children's home and community experiences. Let us now turn to children's opportunities that may also affect language development.

It is clear that words (word form + word meaning) can only be learned when

  1. an unfamiliar word is used with a child and
  2. the meaning is in some way explained to the child while the child is attending to the word form.

In most cases, not only must the word be used, but the context must be clear. Researchers have shown that greater parent use of rare words (words not commonly known by grade four) and the presence of more children's books in the home that are regularly read to the children are related to increased vocabulary by age five.

Betty Hart and Todd Risley have written what may be the clearest book describing language and achievement differences between advantaged and disadvantaged children, and differences in their early experiences. They provide data showing that parents who use many more words have children who use many more words. By three years of age, advantaged children were found to have twice the vocabulary of low-income children, and were adding vocabulary at twice the rate (6 words/day compared to 3 words/day).

More advanced vocabulary was associated with more parent talk including

  1. number of different words used by parents with the child,
  2. warmth in play and work with the child,
  3. "symbolic emphasis" (talk about word meanings),
  4. suggestions rather than orders to their children, and
  5. usually responding to their children's talk.

Other researchers made similar observations. In Gordon Wells' study of language in the home, there was a strong relationship between total adult talk to children and children's' vocabulary gains over time. There were gains in child language when more parents expanded child language, for example, child says "mo milk". Parent says, "Kim, you want some more milk." It seems that vocabulary grows faster when parents actively help children build their vocabulary.

Vocabulary: Effects of Parental Encouragement

It is clear that some homes provide more language support (word explanations, praise for using new words, etc.). Children who are 1 or 2 years of age are seen to inquire about unknown word meanings. However, by age 4 or 5 years, a study of Headstart children's dinner time talk suggested that children ask about very few word meanings. It is easy to visualize such conversations. "Mommy, what does think mean?" If a child is discouraged by an answer like "Don't bother me" or some dismissal, then I suspect that the odds of asking about unknown words becomes rare.

In my personal experience, many questions about unknown words certainly come from four- or five-year old children in advantaged homes. Parents' and caregivers' responsiveness to children's talk, including maintaining attention, responding to children's talk, and emotionally warm support are very important and are related to greater verbal skills.

Vocabulary: Acquisition in Group Care or School Settings

What parents and caregivers "do" matters, perhaps as much or more than the genetic potential passed on to children in group care or school settings. Regardless of income level, parents and caregivers who spend a lot of time talking, reading, and playing with their children, the children developed vocabulary as well as children raised in upper middle-class homes.

In a large-scale study of daycare organization and quality, researchers in an American study similarly found that organization of child care arrangements had a large effect on child language and other outcomes. Child-care programs organized into small groups (8-10 children), with one staff person responsible for the children in their group, resulted in significantly greater language gains. When one person was responsible, teachers made fewer negative commands and more verbal explanations.

Effects of Reading to Children

In addition to studies of parent-child conversations, there are studies of the specific effects of reading to children. Just reading stories to children is not enough—children need more general supportive verbal interaction during reading and at other times.

There are methods of vocabulary support that could be included in story reading with preschool children and even with toddlers and infants. With the youngest children (1 and 2 years of age), effective story reading probably deals more with words shown in pictures and focuses on text within single pages and rhyming. Children generally like having such books read many times. It helps to give words for pictured things.

At ages 3 and 4 years of age, how you read to children is very important. Make sure you gain children's attention to books by asking questions, pointing out parts of an illustration, and prompting the child to "read". Similarly, more reading to children promotes children's vocabulary. By age five (and probably earlier), children can acquire some vocabulary simply as a result of hearing a story read twice. Words that appear many times in a story more likely to be learned.

Repeated reading with word explanations

Several studies with young children have shown that more words can be learned when books are read several times and 5 – 10 different words are taught during each reading. Repeated reading with questions about words resulted in child learning even more words. In general, it seems that embedding word meaning instruction in narrative contexts can increase vocabulary.

Does Early Intervention Make a Difference?

My message to parents and preschool caregivers is to read to, talk with, and engage children in conversation every day. Stronger vocabulary development before children start kindergarten improves children's chances of eliminating vocabulary as a source of reading difficulty.

Vocabulary: Cumulative Vocabulary Effects

The acquisition of new vocabulary at any given point will be a result of environmental opportunities (presence of words to be learned),


This growing vocabulary will be important for children both for understanding explanations and for any inference or construction of new meanings.

If a child is familiar with most of the words in a book, the chances of being able to learn or infer a new meaning is probably much greater than if a child is lacking a number of the other word meanings in the story. This is true not only for developing new meanings, but also for interpreting new prefixed and suffixed words (e.g. uncertain, workable) or compound words (overcome).

I suspect that young children rarely determine meanings of words that are completely unknown, but children may often determine meanings of prefixed. suffixed, or compounded words when both the affixes and the root words are known. This ability is especially likely when most other words in the surrounding text are known. As words are read in stories, children may also come to better understand meanings of words that have been briefly explained before.

Words Developed During the First Five Years

Estimating Vocabulary Size

Some words are understood by 12 months of age, while 50 words are used by children around 18 months of age. More importantly, substantially more words begin to be understood starting around 12 months of age. An average of 200 word meanings are understood by the time the child is 16 months of age. By age 16 to 18 months, some children learn 70 new words per month.

An average of 6000 root word meanings are known by the end of grade two (approximately 8 years of age), but very few at 12 months of age. After 16 months, children learn to understand an average of about 70 word meanings per month.

It seems generally true that by the end of second grade, average children know about 6000 root word meanings plus another 18000 derived word meanings, including prefixed and suffixed words as well as compound words and idiomatic expressions such as "the eleventh hour"—meaning "the last possible time for something to happen".

Estimating Kinds of Words Known

My list of root word meanings likely known at age five or the beginning of kindergarten includes some 3500 meanings. I estimate that a child might know 4000 or more word meanings.

I expect that a child 5 years of age with an above-average vocabulary would know 80% or more of these words. By grade two, more than 80% of these 3500 word meanings will be known by most children. However, the children who learn these words during the primary grades are already behind their classmates in vocabulary development. More advanced children are acquiring more advanced words at this point.

Word Categories

Word meanings were classified by concrete vs. verbally-defined, priority, and by word type category.

Concrete vs. Verbal Meanings. Word meanings were classified as "concrete" (meanings which could be indicated by pointing or acting out, e.g., shower, wrestling) or "verbally-defined" (meanings requiring some verbal explanation of the meaning, e.g., think, secret). About 70% of meanings that are possibly known at 60 months were classified as "concrete".

Age and Type of Meaning. In the second year of life (first year of acquiring words) children learn almost exclusively concrete meanings. Researchers also report no acquisition of adjectives in the 14 - 18 month age-range. During the third year (24 - 36 months), some "relational" terms are added. Many relational words refer to spatial relationships between two objects (for example, in or on). Often adjectives are relational, (for example big vs. little). During the third year children also begin to use some "action/event" terms (for example, bring, drop, listen, remember, breakfast) and other "description" terms or adjectives (for example, asleep, bad, heavy, long).

However, by 36 to 60 months, many children are beginning to acquire verbally-defined meanings as well (for example, clever, weather, amaze, meaning) in addition to adding more of the kinds of words learned earlier. Knowledge of verbally-defined meanings distinguishes children making average progress compared to disadvantaged children making slow progress.

Priority of Word Meanings. Some of the 3000 words average children learn by age 5 are Easy—learned by most children by age 5. Some words may not be learned by age 5, but they are concrete and will be learned easily when needed. I call these "Low Priority" words. However, some words are important and are usually learned by children with large vocabularies but not those with small vocabularies. These are more likely to be verbally-defined words. I call these "Teach" words—words which parents and caregivers should briefly explain when these words appear in stories or conversations. Simply teaching words in lists has not been as effective as teaching words as they appear in stories or conversations.

Conclusions

We have seen that by 60 months of age, average children have acquired more than 3000 root word meanings. However, substantial differences have already developed, with some children knowing at least 1000 fewer meanings than average children.

Read to your children, talk about what is in their world around them, listen to and answer their questions, expand their language, go on walks and talks together, and engage your child in language and reading. The earlier we can support needed vocabulary development, the easier your child's vocabulary will grow in school, and the more your child's language and literacy development will flourish. See Table 1 for a list of some preschool words and their meanings. See Table 2 for a list of word meanings recommended for attention, explanation, or instruction for children ages 3 to 5 years.

Biemiller, A. (2009). Parent/Caregiver Narrative: Vocabulary Development (0 – 60 Months). In L.M. Phillips (Ed.), Handbook of language and literacy development: A Roadmap from 0 – 60 Months. [online], pp. 1 - 42. London, ON: Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. Available at: Handbook of language and literacy development

Table 1: Sample Preschool Meanings by Priority

Easy Meaning Harder but Low Priority Teach/Explain
about
on the point of acorn oak tree nut ABC’s the alphabet
bad
naughty bar
drinking place amaze to surprise
block
child’s toy blend mix battle part of war
button to fasten brownie chocolate nut cake burglar robber
cider apple juice captain in charge of ship chose picked out or selected
cries yells chubby fat and round crouch bend low
drum musical instrument darling sweetheart ever at any time
easy
not hard ear muffs ear warmers flap
move back and forth
fire a flame fingernail nail on finger friday day of week
follow/td> to go along (after another) gang group of people grain oats, corn, etc.
goes on keeps on going grown-up older person hero very brave man
her belonging to a girl house to give shelter to jet kind of airplane
into toward the inside lad young boy letter a written message
liar person who tells lies mane horse’s neck hair letter one of the abc’s
mix stir together necklace worn around neck meaning the sense of words
o.k. alright pack fill tightly nightfall coming of night
out not in pine a tree part a piece of the whole
peas small green vegetables queen king’s wife prepare to get ready
puppy a young dog religion belief in god repeat do over
rush to hurry rowboat oar-driven boat season spring or summer, etc.
show movie or tv program sill lower part of window then next
speed quickness of moving stalk stem of plant tough hard to take
sweep brush off a floor take off remove (clothes) vitamin needed for health
toilet stool in the bathroom (?) trunk auto compartment west where the sun sets
watch a timekeeping device wheat a plant wire metal thread
yours belonging to you zebra striped animal zoo wild animal park

Table 2: Biemiller's Word Meanings Recommended for Attention, Explanation, or Instruction for Children Ages 3 to 5

Word Meaning Type Concrete
/Verbal
abandoned deserted adject/verb V
ABC's the alphabet noun V
ability skill noun V
able can do it adject/adverb V
about around preposition V
about almost preposition V
about somewhere around preposition V
above over and beyond preposition V
above more than preposition V
absent not here adject/adverb V
accept agree to verb V
ache to hurt adject./verb C
act the process of doing noun V
act what you do verb V
act behave in a certain way verb V
acting stage performing verb V
action movement noun V
actor man in play noun C
actress woman in play noun C
address street number noun V
admire think well of verb V
admission right to enter noun V
admit accept as true verb V
adult grown-up noun V
adulthood being grown-up adject./verb V
adventure exciting happening noun V
advice helpful information noun V
afford able to pay for noun V
after later preposition V
after looking for preposition V
afternoon from noon to evening noun V
against next to preposition V
age years lived noun V
age time of life noun V
age to grow old verb V
ages a long time noun V
ago past time noun V
agree think the same verb V
agreement accepted by all verb V
aid help verb C
aim to give direction noun V
aim point a gun verb C
air what you breathe noun C
album book for pictures noun C
alike the same adject/adverb V
alive  living adject/verb C
all the whole noun V
allow permit verb V
allowance a sum of money noun C
almost nearly adject/adverb V
along together with the other preposition V
alongside by the side of preposition C
amaze to surprise adject/verb V
America the United States noun C
among in with preposition V
amount add up to noun V
amount how much noun V
ancestor a relative of long ago noun V
and also x-conjunc. V
anger to make mad verb V
angry mad adject./verb V
animal a beast noun V
ankle part of foot noun C
announce tell everyone verb C
another one added preposition V
answer reply noun V
answer solution noun V
any some adject./verb V
any no special one noun V
anyway no matter what happens x-condit. V
apart separate adject./verb V
ape monkey noun C
appear come into sight verb V
applause clapping of hands verb C
aquarium building for water life noun C
area part of a country noun V
arithmetic study of numbers noun V
army group of soldiers noun C
around nearby preposition V
arrange put in order verb V
arrive get there verb V
arrow weapon shot from a bow noun C
art great painting, music noun V
art drawing noun V
ashamed feels sorry adject./verb C
asthma affects breathing adject./verb C
astronaut spaceman noun C
at in or on preposition V
at first in the beginning noun V
atlas map book noun C
attend pay attention noun V
attend be there verb V
attention act of courtesy (attend to __) noun V
author book writer noun V
autumn fall noun C
awake not asleep adject./verb C
award prize noun C
away not at home preposition V
awhile for a time noun V
back in the past preposition V
background distant view noun V
backward back to the front preposition V
balance keep weights steady verb V
balance keep equal or even verb V
ball round object noun V
band united group noun V
bank where money is kept noun C
bank land along a stream noun V
bare hardly enough adject/adverb C
bare empty adject/adverb V
baseball bat and ball game noun C
bashful shy adject./verb V
basketball game noun C
bathe take a bath verb C
battle part of a war noun V
beach seaside noun V
beak the bill of a bird noun C
bean a vegetable noun C
bear to carry verb C
beast animal noun V
beauty shop place of skin and hair care noun V
became turned into x-to be V
because for the reason that preposition V
become get to be x-to be V
before earlier in time preposition V
beg to ask for charity verb C
beginning the first part preposition V
behave to act well verb V
belief what you think is true noun V
belief trust in something noun V
believe think true verb V
belong to be someone's preposition V
belong to be a member verb V
belongings what he owns noun V
bend to twist, pull out of shape verb C
better more good adject./verb V
between  in the separating space preposition V
beyond on the far side preposition V
beyond farther than preposition V
bill paper money noun C
bill money due noun V
bit a little adject/adverb C
blade cutting part (of a knife) noun C
blaze to flame noun C
bled lost blood verb C
blind can't see adject/adverb C
blind take away sight verb C
blindfold cloth over eyes noun C
block stop something verb C
blonde light-haired woman noun C
blood liquid in veins noun C
bloom grow flowers verb C
border edge decoration noun C
bore make weary by dullness verb V
boss chief noun C
both one and the other preposition V
bother to take the trouble verb V
bought gave money for verb C
bounce to move springily verb C
bow a kind of knot verb C
boxer a prize fighter noun C
brace a support noun V
brain inside of head noun C
branch part of a tree noun C
brave has courage adject/adverb V
break force way in verb C
break out to force way out verb C
bright very smart adject/adverb C
brighten make shine verb C
broadcast put on radio or TV verb C
bulb electric light noun C
bully picks on others noun C
bumpy full of rough spots adject/adverb C
burner part of a stove noun C
business industry noun V
but except x-conjunc. V
butler manservant noun C
buy get by paying price verb C
by not later than preposition V
cab taxi noun C
cabin small hut or house noun C
cafeteria special eating place noun C
calendar shows days, months noun V
cancel give up verb C
canyon deep valley noun V
capital letter large print initial noun C
captain army officer noun C
car part of train noun C
care be fond of verb C
careful takes no chances (cautious) adject/adverb C
carry take verb C
cash coins or bills noun V
cat lion, tiger, etc. noun C
catch get the disease verb C
catch on get the meaning verb C
caterpillar fuzzy worm noun C
cause reason for noun V
ceiling top of room noun C
celebrate to keep a holiday verb V
celebrate have a party verb V
celebration a big party noun V
center the middle noun V
center where many gather noun V
cereal grain for food noun V
certain particular adject/adverb C
chain links of metal noun V
chairman committee leader noun V
champion the winner noun V
change money returned noun V
change to make different verb V
channel TV station noun C
chap become rough verb C
charge the price verb C
charge rush forward verb C
cheap doesn't cost much adject/adverb C
cheat a dishonest person noun C
check a mark noun C
checkup examination noun C
cheer feel happy verb C
cheer to give comfort verb C
cheerful gay adject./verb C
chef cook noun C
chief the boss noun C
childhood being young noun V
chill a sudden cold feeling adject./verb C
chill to make cold verb C
chimpanzee African ape noun C
choose pick out (or select) verb C
chore small job noun C
chose picked out (or select) verb C
chuckle to laugh happily verb C
circle a ring noun V
circus travelling animal show noun C
claim to ask for as one's own noun V
class a school group noun C
class students in the same grade noun V
classroom school room noun C
clay soft, sticky mud noun C
clear remove verb C
clearly plainly adject/adverb V
clever very smart noun V
climate weather conditions noun V
close bring to an end verb V
coal a hard black fuel noun C
coast land by an ocean noun V
coat a layer of paint noun C
coat to spread over verb C
collapse fall down verb C
collection things brought together noun V
color red, blue, etc. adject/adverb V
comfort to make someone feel better verb C
comfortable satisfied adject/adverb V
comic funny adject/adverb C
command an order noun V
command order to do verb C
company guests noun C
complete to finish verb V
compliment praise verb V
conflict a fight noun V
connect join together verb V
contest competition noun V
convert to change from one to another verb V
cool to make colder verb C
copy do like others verb V
copy one of many of the same noun C
copycat an imitator noun V
cord an electric wire noun C
correct is right adject/adverb V
cost price noun V
cotton a plant noun C
could would be able adject./verb V
country rural land (as distinct from urban or suburban) noun V
country land or district (nation) noun V
couple two persons noun V
crank handle for turning noun C
create make verb V
creature a big monster noun C
crime stealing or killing noun V
crime lawbreaking act noun V
cripple can't walk adject/adverb C
crisp fresh and firm adject/adverb V
crop what is grown noun V
cross a T or X shaped sign noun C
cross-legged with one leg over the other verb C
crossing where streets cross noun C
crosswalk where walkers cross street noun C
crouch bend low verb C
crowd many people together noun V
cruel without mercy adject/adverb V
crumple to wrinkle up verb C
crutch helps to walk noun C
cuddle to hold and pet verb C
cup a measure noun V
curdle to sour verb C
daily an every-day newspaper noun C
dam holds back water noun C
damp a little wet adject/adverb V
dance move body in rhythm verb C
danger chance of harm adject/adverb C
dangerous not safe, harmful adject/adverb C
dare challenge verb V
dark gloomy adject/adverb V
dash hurry off verb C
date day of the month noun V
day a 24-hour period noun V
daylight light of day noun C
dazzle to cause admiration verb C
dead no longer alive adject/adverb C
deadline time limit noun V
deal to buy and sell verb V
deal a bargain noun V
death being dead noun V
decide make up your mind verb V
decorate make pretty verb C
deep goes far down adject/adverb C
defend to keep from harm verb V
defense guarding oneself verb C
delighted greatly pleased adject./verb C
deliver take to verb V
den criminal's hideout noun C
dentist a tooth doctor noun C
dependable trustworthy adject/adverb V
describe give word pictures of verb V
design a pattern noun V
desk writing table noun C
destroy knock to pieces verb C
detective policeman noun C
diet selection of special food noun V
diet to eat only certain foods verb V
difference not being alike noun V
different not alike adject./verb C
difficult hard to get along with adject/adverb V
digit number below ten (number) noun V
dim not bright adject/adverb C
dim almost dark adject/adverb C
dime ten cents noun C
dinosaur animal no longer living (extinct) noun C
dip sauce for snacks noun C
directions tell how to use noun V
disappear pass from sight verb C
discovery the thing found noun V
disgrace shame noun V
dish special food noun C
disobey will not obey verb V
displaced out of place adject/adverb V
display showing off verb C
distance how far apart noun V
dive a downward plunge verb C
divide cut into parts verb V
do a favor to show a kindness verb V
doctor to try to cure noun C
doctor medical expert noun V
dollar U.S. official money noun V
doom an unhappy fate noun V
dozen twelve noun V
drag to go very slowly adject/adverb C
dragon fire-breathing beast noun V
drawing the art of sketching noun C
dream seen in sleep verb V
dressing stuffing for meats noun C
drill hole-cutting instrument noun C
drive to force noun V
drown to die from water verb C
drowsy sleepy adject/adverb C
drunken had too much liquor adject./verb C
dry not interesting adject/adverb V
dryer takes out moisture noun C
duck to dodge verb C
dull not sharp adject/adverb C
during while something else happens preposition V
dust fine dirt noun C
each one everyone noun V
eager wants very much adject./verb V
eagle large, strong bird noun C
early near the start of adject./verb V
early not late noun V
earn to get by work verb V
earth the ground noun C
earth the world we live in noun V
earthquake shaking of earth noun C
easily not difficult adject/adverb V
East the part nearest sunrise noun V
east toward early morning sun noun V
east a direction noun V
eastern opposite the west adject./verb V
easy not strict adject/adverb V
educate to teach verb V
education teaching noun V
eight 8 noun V
eighteen 17 plus 1 noun V
eighteenth first one after 17th noun V
eighth one after 7th noun V
elbow joint of the arm noun C
elect to choose by vote verb V
election selection by vote noun V
election people voting noun V
electric works by current adject./verb V
elevator lifting machine noun C
eleven 11 noun V
else other noun V
empty contains nothing adject/adverb C
end the last part noun V
end to finish verb V
end the edge noun C
enemy unfriendly person noun C
engine pulls train noun C
enjoy take pleasure in verb V
enlarge make larger verb C
enough as much as needed noun V
enter take part in verb C
entrance coming in noun C
envelope covering for letter noun C
equal symbol used in arithmetic adject./verb V
equal the same noun V
errand special trip noun V
erupt to burst forth verb C
escape to get away noun V
escape to stay safe from verb C
even steady or regular adject/adverb V
even smooth adject/adverb V
even divided into equally adject/adverb V
even equal noun V
evening late afternoon noun V
evening from sunset to bedtime noun V
ever at anytime x-time V
everybody all people noun C
everyone all persons noun C
everything all things noun V
everywhere all places noun V
evil bad or wrong adject/adverb V
exactly just right adject/adverb V
example a sample noun V
except but preposition V
exercise running and jumping noun C
exit way out of building noun V
expert highly skilled noun V
expert person with special skill noun V
explain to make clear verb V
explain to give the reason for verb V
explore to travel over for learning verb V
explore to search for verb C
explosive can blow up things noun C
expressway a high-speed highway noun C
extra something in addition adject./verb V
eyelash hair on eyelid noun C
eyelid covering of eye noun C
fact something real noun V
factory where goods are made noun V
fail not succeed verb C
fair without cheating adject/adverb V
faith what is believed noun V
fall autumn noun V
false not true adject/adverb V
false not real adject/adverb V
false. not real (not correct) adject./verb V
far-off far away adject/adverb C
faraway way off adject/adverb C
farther more far noun V
favor a kind act noun V
fear being afraid adject./verb C
feast big meal noun C
feather bird-wing material noun C
feel like to be in mood for verb V
feelings sensitive part of your nature noun V
feet twelve inch lengths noun V
ferry a river-crossing boat noun C
fever disease with high temperature adject./verb C
few not many adject./verb V
field land for special use (mainly agriculture, sports) noun C
fierce violent adject/adverb C
fiesta a lively celebration noun C
fifteen 15 noun V
figure out to solve verb V
film to make a movie of noun C
film a movie noun C
final the end adject./verb V
finally at last adject/adverb V
fingerprint mark made by finger noun C
first ahead of second adject./verb V
first-aid helps in accident noun V
five 5 noun V
fix get something ready verb V
flag cloth emblem of nation noun V
flap move back and forth verb C
flatten  make flat verb C
flavor taste adject/adverb C
flavor to give a taste to adject./verb C
float go on top of water verb C
flock to group together verb C
flood an unusual flow of water noun C
flood cover with water verb C
floss dental thread noun C
flour fine-ground wheat noun C
flower colored blossom noun C
flower to bloom verb C
flu a sickness adject./verb C
follow to keep your eyes on verb V
foolish has no sense adject/adverb V
foot the lowest part noun V
foot twelve inches noun V
force to push or pull on something verb C
force to make someone do something verb V
forces armed groups noun V
foreign born in another country adject/adverb V
forest woods noun C
forever always adject./verb V
forget not to remember verb V
forgiveness pardon verb V
forgot lost from memory verb V
form to make, put together verb V
fortune your future noun V
forward toward the front adject./verb V
four 4 noun V
fourteen 14 noun V
frame border for picture noun C
free no cost adject./verb V
free to let go verb V
free let loose from slavery verb V
freezer makes ice noun C
fresh pure and cool adject/adverb V
fresh new, not spoiled adject/adverb V
fresh water not salty noun V
Friday day of week noun V
from because of preposition V
from now on beginning now and continuing preposition V
front the face part adject./verb V
fry cook in hot grease verb V
fuel for burning noun C
full has all it can hold adject/adverb V
full grown full size adject./verb V
further at a greater distance adject./verb V
gallon four quarts noun V
game a form of play noun V
gap opening noun C
garbage waste matter noun C
garden to grow plants verb C
gargle wash throat with liquid verb C
gather to pick and collect verb C
gather bring together verb V
gaze look at verb C
genius outstanding ability noun V
gentle mild-tempered adject/adverb V
gentle light and soft adject/adverb C
get home arrive verb C
gift special ability adject./verb C
gigantic very big adject./verb V
glance a quick look verb C
glare angry look verb C
glass a breakable material noun C
glimpse quick view verb C
glitter shine verb C
globe kind of map noun C
globe the earth noun C
glow light or brightness verb C
glue to fix so it sticks noun C
gold a yellow color adject./verb C
gold a valuable yellow metal noun C
government the rulers (should this be governing organization?) noun V
governor head of state noun C
grain oats, corn, etc. noun C
grand wonderful adject/adverb C
grand very good adject/adverb V
grape fruit from vine noun C
grave place for burying noun C
gray mixed black and white adject./verb C
green not ripe adject/adverb C
green the color of grass noun V
grill cooking tool noun C
grind make into small pieces verb C
grip firm hold verb C
groceries food supplies noun C
grocery food store noun C
ground the earth's surface noun V
group a bunch noun C
group  to gather together verb C
grow to plant and care for noun V
grow to develop verb V
grow to become verb V
grow get bigger verb C
guard protect verb V
guess choose without knowing verb V
guest a visitor noun V
guide a leader noun V
guide show the way verb C
gush spout out verb C
gym room for sports noun C
hail frozen rain noun C
hailstorm a rain of ice balls noun C
half dollar a 50-cent piece noun C
halfway in the middle adject./verb V
hall connects rooms noun C
hand help lent verb C
hand on clock noun V
handle to hold, move, with hands verb C
handlebars things that steer bicycle noun C
handmade made by hand adject/adverb C
handsome nice looking adject/adverb C
happen to come by chance verb V
harbor where ships unload noun V
hard of hearing deaf adject./verb C
harm damage noun V
hay cattle food noun C
head main part of a tool noun C
headquarters police station (center for organization) noun V
health being in good condition noun C
heard learned through ears verb C
heart body's blood pump noun V
heat warmth noun V
heater furnace, stove, etc. noun C
height high ground noun C
held did hold verb C
helicopter kind of aircraft noun C
helmet a head protector noun C
hero very brave man noun V
hero main actor noun V
hideous very ugly adject/adverb C
high school 9th to 12th grades noun V
highway main road noun C
history what has happened noun V
history record of the past noun V
hit a success noun V
hitch to fasten on verb C
hold to keep possession verb V
hold to keep back verb V
hole a small opening noun C
holiday day for celebration noun V
honor have respect for verb V
hook curved or bent shape noun C
hope trust verb V
hope to expect and wish for verb V
hopscotch children's game noun C
horrendous terrible adject/adverb C
horrible terrible adject/adverb C
hotel furnishes food and room noun V
hour sixty minutes noun V
hour a fixed time noun V
however in whatever way x-time V
human like a person adject/adverb C
human man or woman noun C
humor something funny adject/adverb V
hunk a lump or chunk noun C
hurricane bad storm noun C
hurry to make others speed verb C
hurt to damage other's feelings verb V
husband wife's mate noun C
husky big and strong adject/adverb C
idea a thought noun V
idea a plan in mind noun V
if supposing that x-condition V
ill sick adject./verb V
imagine picture in mind verb V
important serious adject/adverb V
impossible can't be done adject/adverb V
inch 1/12th of a foot noun V
insect six-legged bug noun C
inside the inner part adject./verb V
inspection checkup verb C
instant very short time noun C
instantly right now noun C
instead in place of preposition V
interest a liking for verb C
interested pays attention adject./verb V
interfere get in the way verb V
introduce to present formally verb C
invent make something new verb V
invisible cannot be seen adject/adverb C
invite to ask to come verb C
iron a metal noun V
irritate make oversensitive verb V
island land circled by water noun C
jacks a game noun C
jaywalker disobeys crossing rules noun V
jet kind of plane noun C
jewel an ornament set with gems noun C
job duty noun V
join become a member verb V
joke something to laugh at noun V
journey a trip noun V
judge a court officer noun C
jungle very thick forest noun C
just moment ago adject/adverb V
just barely adject/adverb V
just exactly adject/adverb V
keep to hold back verb V
keys piano, typewriter, or computer controls noun C
kickball a playground game noun V
kid a young child noun C
kidnap steal a child verb C
kind gentle and loving adject/adverb V
kind good to others adject/adverb V
kind-hearted gentle and good adject/adverb V
kindergarten grade for little children noun V
kit box of tools noun V
kneel rest on knees verb C
knight noble servant of a king noun V
knot tangle in string (tied string) noun C
know to understand verb V
know to have experience with verb V
know be sure of verb V
known not strange adject./verb V
lab science workshop (abbreviation) noun C
laid put down verb C
lake a body of water noun C
lamp a light noun C
land soil noun C
land a country noun V
lane a narrow road noun V
language speech noun V
last one at the end adject./verb V
lasting doesn't wear out adject/adverb V
late not on time adject./verb V
late near the last part adject./verb V
law the rule noun V
lawful right by law adject./verb V
lawn grassy ground noun C
lead show the way verb C
lean slant to the side adject./verb V
lean on lean against verb C
leap to jump verb C
learn to find out verb V
leash strap noun C
leave go away verb C
leave for go towards verb C
left opposite of right adject./verb V
left-handed uses left hand adject/adverb C
leftover what is left adject/adverb V
lens part of camera noun C
less a smaller amount adject./verb V
less than a smaller number than preposition V
let allow verb C
letter one of the ABC's noun V
letter a written message noun V
level even adject/adverb V
life a way of living noun V
lift helping hand verb V
likely probable (level 6) adject./verb V
line a row noun V
line a stretched string noun C
line a straight thin mark noun V
line up to put into a row verb V
liquor (alcohol) drink (intoxicating drink) noun C
list a series of names, etc. noun V
litterbug scatters trash noun V
live being alive adject./verb V
lives home is there noun C
load to weigh down (to put objects to be carried) verb C
load what must be carried noun V
load a great quantity noun C
lockup jail noun C
lonely misses others adject./verb C
long not short adject./verb V
look after take care of noun C
loop a circled string noun C
lord has power over others noun C
lot plot of land noun V
lotion soothing liquid noun C
love to have deep feeling for verb C
luggage suitcases noun C
lumber planks, boards noun C
lump swelling noun C
lung breathing organ noun V
macaroni Italian food noun C
machine power tool noun C
made built verb C
magnet attracts iron noun C
major greater, larger adject./verb V
make up to invent verb C
man humankind noun V
man a human being noun V
manage to get along verb V
manners social behavior noun V
mark a sign noun V
marker keeps place noun V
marriage wedding noun C
mash a soft mixture noun C
mask a false face noun C
massive big and heavy adject/adverb C
master an expert noun V
material made of matter noun V
may is allowed verb V
maybe perhaps adject/adverb V
meadow a grassy field noun C
meal when food is served noun C
mean cruel adject/adverb C
meaning the sense of the words noun V
measure the height and weight, etc. noun V
medium-sized middle-sized adject./verb V
meet to come together verb C
meeting get-together noun C
megaphone make a sound larger noun C
melon a fruit noun C
melt soften with heat verb C
member a person who belongs noun V
memory the ability to remember noun V
mend fix, repair verb C
menu list of food noun V
message news sent noun C
messenger does errands (carries messages) noun C
midnight 12 o'clock at night noun V
midsummer middle of summer noun V
midwinter middle of winter noun V
mighty powerful adject/adverb C
mild gentle adject/adverb C
mile measure of distance noun V
mimic to imitate verb C
mind be bothered by verb V
mind obey verb C
mind (keep in) (keep in) memory noun V
minnow tiny fish noun C
minute 60 in one hour noun V
miracle a wonder noun V
misbehave to do wrong verb C
misery unhappiness noun C
miss unmarried woman adject./verb C
miss fail to hit verb C
missing absent adject./verb C
mistake wrong act verb C
mob crowd (angry crowd?) noun C
model poses for artist noun C
model something to copy noun V
modern up-to-date adject/adverb V
moisture dampness noun C
moment just a second noun V
Monday day of the week noun V
money dollars and cents noun V
monkey wrench adjustable wrench noun C
monster a horrible creature noun V
morning first half of day noun V
most nearly all adject/adverb C
motel roadside hotel noun C
motion movement noun C
motor involves action noun V
motor supplies power noun C
muck decayed matter noun C
museum history storehouse noun C
museum a place for showing exhibits noun C
music tunes and songs noun C
mute deaden sound verb C
mystery something secret noun V
naked without clothes adject/adverb C
narrow not very wide adject./verb V
nasty not pleasant adject/adverb C
natural formed by nature adject./verb V
nature outdoor world noun V
near-sighted (only) sees things close (clearly) adject/adverb C
necessary needed adject./verb C
need great want noun V
needle a tool for shots noun C
needs must have verb V
neighbor lives nearby noun C
neighborhood places close by noun C
neighborly friendly adject/adverb C
neither not this or that preposition V
never not at all adject./verb V
never at no time adject./verb V
new modern adject/adverb C
newspaper prints news noun V
next the nearest one adject./verb V
nickel a five-cent piece noun V
night dark time noun V
nightfall coming of night noun C
nightmare bad dream noun C
nine 9 noun V
nineteen 19 noun V
ninth between 8th and 10th noun V
nip to sting or hurt verb C
nip to bite verb C
nonresident lives elsewhere noun V
noonday 12 o'clock daytime noun V
normal ordinary adject./verb V
north toward the upper pole noun V
nose to pry verb C
note short letter noun V
notice see and remember verb V
number to count noun V
number 1, 2, 3, etc. noun V
numbers many noun C
nutrition food noun V
nutritious valuable as food adject./verb V
obey do as told verb C
object a thing noun C
ocean a large body of salt water noun C
octopus sea animal noun C
odd unusual adject/adverb C
of course certainly adject/adverb V
off away from preposition V
offer to give verb C
office place of business noun C
often many times x-time V
old of age noun V
omelet beaten egg, fried noun C
once one time only x-time V
one 1 noun V
open clear adject/adverb C
opening a hole noun C
openly without secrets adject/adverb C
order to command verb C
ordinary common adject./verb V
other the second of two choices adject./verb V
ounce measure of weight noun V
out of order doesn't work adject/adverb C
outdoors not inside preposition V
outer on the outside adject./verb V
oval egg-shaped adject/adverb C
over across preposition V
overalls work clothing noun C
overhead above preposition V
overload to weigh down too much verb C
overweight too heavy adject./verb V
owe to have a debt verb V
own belongs to adject/adverb C
P.M. between noon and midnight noun V
pack a bundle noun C
pail a bucket noun C
pain suffering noun V
paper publishes the news noun C
pardon forgiveness verb C
part a piece of the whole noun V
partnership people working together noun V
pass go beyond verb C
paste to stick together verb C
paste flour and water noun C
pat to shape with hands verb C
path a general direction noun V
pave to surface a street verb C
pay attention to to watch and listen to verb V
peace freedom from war noun V
pebble small stone noun C
peeve to make angry verb C
penny a one-cent coin noun V
pepper a spice for food noun C
perfect without flaw adject/adverb C
perfect just right adject/adverb V
perform act verb V
perhaps possibly, maybe x-condit. V
permit to allow verb C
person a human being noun C
personal your own business adject/adverb V
pest a nuisance noun C
phony fake adject/adverb V
pick on to bother, annoy verb V
pickup a small truck noun C
picture to imagine verb V
pinch small amount adject/adverb C
ping-pong table tennis noun C
pipe a tube for liquids noun C
pitch to erect or establish verb C
pitiful sad adject./verb C
place put verb C
plan to work out ahead of time verb V
planet body moving around sun noun V
plant to put in ground verb C
plant to place verb C
plaster paste (? Material for covering wall/wallboard) noun C
play a stage show noun C
play to pretend verb C
pleasant friendly, agreeable adject/adverb C
pleasing gives pleasure verb C
pleasure enjoyment noun V
plenty enough adject/adverb C
plugged stopped up verb C
plumbing water pipes noun C
point out to show verb C
poison ivy itchy rash noun C
police a government department noun C
poor bad adject/adverb C
post office handles mail noun C
postage the charge for mailing noun C
poster sign noun V
postpone put off verb V
pound measure of weight noun V
pound for stray animals noun C
pour to make flow verb C
prairie plain land noun C
precious of great value adject/adverb C
prepare to get ready verb V
present to give to verb C
present I'm here verb C
President head of U.S.A. noun C
press to push against verb C
prevent keep from happening verb V
price the cost noun V
primary beginning grade noun V
Prime Minister head of Canada noun C
print stamped or pressed letters noun V
print photo made from a negative (or printer) verb C
prize a reward noun V
program lists what happens noun V
proof showing truth noun V
proper strictly speaking adject/adverb C
protect to keep safe verb C
proud spirited adject./verb C
proud pleased with self adject./verb C
prove to show to be true verb V
pulley movable wheel noun C
puppet a strong-operated doll noun C
purse a woman's money and bag noun C
quarrel with to find fault with (disagree, argue) verb V
quart two pints noun V
quarter twenty-five cents noun V
queen country's ruler noun C
quick fast adject/adverb C
quilt a bed cover noun C
quit to stop verb C
quiz to question verb V
rabies disease of mad dogs noun V
railroad train tracks noun C
raise grow things verb C
ranch a large farm noun C
range Western grassland noun C
raw not cooked adject/adverb C
reach go far enough verb C
read understood the writing verb V
ready quick, on time adject./verb V
rebuild build again verb C
receive to get verb C
recess play time noun C
record book of past happenings noun V
record put on a phonograph disk (or tape or disk) verb C
refrigerate to keep cold verb C
regular average, normal adject/adverb C
rejoice be happy verb C
rejoin join again verb C
related belong to same family verb V
relax to rest verb C
relax take it easy verb C
relieve to lessen verb C
remember keep in mind verb V
remind cause to remember verb V
remove take away verb C
rent pay for using verb V
reorganize put in order again verb V
repair to fix verb C
repeat say again verb C
repeat do over verb C
rescue save from danger verb C
reset to put back in order verb V
retain keep verb C
retire stop working verb C
retrieve get back again verb C
return give back verb C
revenge to get even verb V
reward prize noun V
rhyme word sounding alike noun V
rib a chest bone noun C
right directly adject/adverb V
right correct, not wrong adject./verb V
right-handed using right hand adject/adverb C
ring circle-shaped thing noun C
ripe ready adject./verb C
rise to get up verb C
rise go higher verb C
risk to take a chance verb C
rock kind of music noun C
rock to cause to shake verb C
rock move back and forth verb C
roof upper inside of mouth noun C
room space noun V
rope a cord noun C
rot decayed matter noun C
rot spoil or decay verb C
rough not smooth adject/adverb C
rough not finished adject/adverb C
round shape of ball adject./verb C
route way or road noun C
row things lined up noun V
rubber a stretching material noun C
ruler a measuring stick noun V
run to operate verb C
rye a kind of bread noun C
safe not hurt adject/adverb C
sail travel by water verb C
salami kind of sausage noun C
sale low prices noun V
same just like it adject./verb V
sample an example noun V
sand to smooth down verb C
sank went under water verb C
satisfactory O.K. adject./verb V
Saturday day of the week noun V
sausage ground meat noun C
save keep money verb V
scale a device for weighing noun V
scare a sudden fright noun C
scatter to go in all directions verb C
school university division noun V
school learning place noun C
scrape to scratch verb C
screen keeps flies out noun C
screen hide from view verb C
sea huge lake noun C
season spring or summer, etc. noun V
second part of a minute noun V
secret private adject./verb V
secret kept to yourself adject./verb V
see to have power of sight verb C
see go find out verb C
see your point understand it verb V
seed to plant the ground noun C
select pick out verb C
selection a number to choose from noun V
sell to get people to buy verb C
send to have a message go out verb C
send tell to go verb C
separate take apart verb C
serve to be of help verb V
service the Army, Navy, etc. noun V
service serving others verb C
set to put verb C
set off  to start on a trip verb V
settle calm down verb C
seven 7 noun V
seventeen 17 noun V
shade protect from the light verb C
share divide with others verb C
sharp cuts easily adject/adverb C
shatter break into pieces verb C
shatterproof can't be splintered adject/adverb C
shed lose hair verb C
shelves open ledges noun C
shift change position verb C
shine give out light verb C
short not tall adject./verb V
show performance noun C
shower a bath noun C
shred cut in pieces verb C
shrink grow smaller verb C
shrunk got smaller verb C
shy bashful adject./verb C
side edge or surface noun V
sight power to see noun V
sight what is seen noun C
sight catch a view of verb C
sights things worth seeing noun V
sign a signal noun V
silence stillness (no sound) verb V
silence make quiet verb C
silk a fine cloth noun C
simple not complicated adject/adverb C
sincere not pretending verb V
single one only adject./verb V
sink to go under water verb C
sink go down verb C
sip drink a little verb C
six 6 noun V
size how large it is noun V
skip a gay, dancing walk verb C
skull head bone noun C
skyscraper a tall building noun C
slam move hard with force verb C
slave to work very hard adject/adverb V
slave a person who belongs to another (now illegal!) noun V
slide to move smoothly verb C
slight not strong adject/adverb C
slim not fat adject/adverb C
slime soft, slippery mud noun C
slip to lose your balance verb C
slope a slant noun V
smart quick at learning adject./verb V
smog smoke and fog noun C
smoothly easily, with no trouble adject/adverb C
snatch grab quickly verb C
soak let stand in water verb C
soar fly upward verb C
soccer form of football noun C
social ourselves and others adject/adverb V
soil earth noun C
sold gave for money verb C
solid not hollow adject/adverb C
solid the hard form of matter noun V
solve find the answer verb V
some certain ones noun V
some a little adject./verb V
somebody a person noun C
something at least a little noun C
somewhere in one place or another noun C
soon before long x-time V
sore painful and tender adject./verb C
sorrow sadness noun C
sound what can be heard noun C
south opposite the north noun V
space home of the stars noun V
spare an extra adject/adverb V
speaker a radio's sound reproducer noun C
special something extra adject/adverb C
speech the power of talking noun V
spent money already used verb C
spin whirling motion verb V
splash to scatter a liquid verb C
split to divide into parts verb C
spool holds thread noun C
spot a place noun C
spot catch sight of verb C
sprain injury by twisting verb C
spread to stretch out verb C
sprint short race at full speed noun C
sprout begin to grow verb C
spun turned verb C
squash crush verb C
stale not fresh adject/adverb C
stands for represents verb V
stare fixed look verb C
starting point where a thing begins noun V
startle surprise and frighten verb C
starve to die of hunger verb C
state Texas is one noun V
state condition noun V
station a bus or train depot noun C
steel a very strong metal noun C
stew a boiled meat dish noun C
stiff hard to bend adject/adverb C
stiffen harden verb C
still not moving adject/adverb C
sting a wasp or bee's weapon noun C
sting a sharp pain noun C
stockpile to store up verb C
stool a seat without a back noun C
stop to prevent noun V
store supplies for the future verb C
storm to be violent/outburst verb C
story a made-up tale noun V
story floor of a building noun C
straight without a bend or curve adject/adverb C
strain injury noun C
strange not known adject/adverb V
strength power noun C
stretch to pull out longer verb C
strike to hit verb C
strike to attack verb C
strong healthy, sound adject/adverb C
student a person in school noun C
study to try to learn verb V
sub a sandwich noun C
sudden quick adject/adverb C
suit a set of clothes noun C
summer June, July, August noun V
summon send for verb C
sunk the past of sink verb C
sure certain adject/adverb C
surgeon doctor who operates noun C
surprise something not expected adject/adverb C
surround to shut in on all sides verb V
survive stay alive verb C
suspect person thought guilty noun C
swallow to take into stomach verb C
swamp wet, spongy ground noun C
swarm insects in a big group noun C
swat to hit verb C
swift fast adject/adverb C
switch to move from one to another verb C
tag a child's game noun C
take a picture make a photo verb C
take a plane to go by plane verb C
take turns to do one by one verb C
tale a story noun V
tame gentle, not wild adject/adverb C
tan light brown color adject./verb C
tartar sauce makes seafood tasty noun C
tattle tell secrets verb C
taught did teach verb C
tea a little bag of tea leaves noun C
teacher a school worker noun C
tear to rip, pull apart verb C
telescope for seeing far away noun C
ten 10 noun V
tender loving and gentle adject/adverb C
terrible awful, great fear adject./verb C
terrific great adject/adverb C
test a school exam noun V
Thanksgiving a November holiday noun C
theater movie house noun C
their belongs to them adject/adverb C
then next x-time V
there in that place noun C
thermometer measures hot and cold noun V
thieves robbers noun C
thin skinny, not thick adject./verb V
think to remember verb V
think to imagine verb V
third next after second noun V
thirsty the need for water adject./verb C
thirteenth 13th noun V
thirty 30 noun V
thought believed noun V
thought what you think verb V
thought concern or care (grade level 6) verb V
thoughtful thinking of others adject./verb V
thread a string (very thin--for sewing) noun C
three 3 noun V
thrill to excite verb C
through finished noun V
thunder noise after lightning noun C
tick-tack-toe a paper and pencil game noun C
tie to make a bow or knot verb C
timber trees or wood noun C
time to choose the moment for noun V
time hours or moments free (remaining time) noun V
time hour and minute noun V
time is up time is over noun V
tiny very small adject./verb V
tiptoe on point of toes adject/adverb C
tired having no pep adject./verb C
tissue thin paper noun C
today now noun V
tomorrow the coming day noun C
tongue part of mouth noun C
tonight this night noun V
top the greatest adject/adverb C
torment cause suffering verb C
tornado whirlwind noun C
total entire amount adject/adverb C
touch to feel with the fingers verb C
tough hard to take adject/adverb V
tractor heavy pulling machine noun C
trade to exchange verb V
traffic cars passing noun C
train railway cars noun C
train to teach verb C
trainer teaches people noun C
trap for catching animals noun C
trapper hunts animals noun C
travel taking trips noun C
travel go someplace verb C
traveler moves around noun C
treasure a lot of money noun C
trespass enter property unlawfully verb C
tribe large group of Native Americans or others noun C
trick to try to fool verb C
trifle small thing noun C
trip a journey noun C
troubled worried adject./verb C
true rightful adject/adverb C
true. right (correct) adject/adverb C
trustful believing adject./verb V
truth the facts noun V
try work at doing better verb C
tube long, hollow container noun C
tuna large fish noun C
turn down to refuse verb C
turn over to put upside down verb C
turns into becomes verb C
tutor private teacher noun C
twenty 20 noun V
twilight early evening noun V
twist to curve or bend verb C
twist turn verb C
two 2 noun V
U.S. United States noun V
ugly unpleasant to look at adject/adverb C
ugly nasty adject/adverb C
understand to know what it means verb V
understanding agreement noun V
United States union of American states noun V
upset disturbed adject./verb C
use what it's good for noun V
useful helpful adject/adverb C
using making use of verb V
vacation a time for rest and fun noun C
valley low land between mountains noun C
vanish disappear verb C
vegetable a plant for eating noun C
vegetarian does not eat meat noun C
very much, greatly adject/adverb C
vice-president chief assistant (sometimes) noun V
victory winning noun V
video television picture noun C
view to look at verb C
village a very small town noun C
violin musical instrument noun C
virus spreads disease noun V
vitamin substance needed for health noun C
voice power of speech noun V
volcano fiery mountain noun C
volume loudness adject/adverb C
vote pick a person for office verb V
wall side of building noun C
wallet holds money noun C
wander walk here and there verb C
war a fight between armies noun C
warm medium hot adject/adverb C
warning notice of danger noun V
watch out to be careful verb C
wave a ripple on water noun C
wax paper moisture-proof wrapping noun C
weak not strong adject/adverb C
weakness no strength adject/adverb C
week seven days noun V
weigh find out how heavy verb V
weight heaviness noun V
well deep hole for water noun C
well-balanced well adjusted adject./verb V
west where sun sets noun V
where in what place preposition V
while time preposition V
white snow-colored adject/adverb C
wide fully opened adject/adverb C
wide-awake alert adject./verb C
wild without control adject/adverb C
wild not tamed adject/adverb C
wild as in nature adject/adverb C
wildlife untamed animals noun C
willing will do it adject./verb V
win get a victory verb V
wind stream of air noun C
window opening for light noun C
wing hold airplane up noun C
wing used for flying (part of bird and airplane) noun C
wink an eye signal noun V
winter the coldest season noun V
wire a metal thread noun C
wisdom being wise noun V
wise bright or smart adject./verb V
wish a desire verb C
without not having preposition V
won came out ahead verb C
wonder to think about verb V
wood(s) a thick growth of trees noun C
word sound with meaning noun V
work be in order adject/adverb V
work something to do noun V
work a job noun V
worn tired adject/adverb C
worn out used up (doesn't work anymore) adject./verb C
worn out tired out adject./verb C
worth value noun V
wrap up to package verb C
wrench tool noun C
wrench to sprain verb C
wrestling kind of fighting noun C
write to put on paper verb C
yard measure of length noun V
year 12 months noun V
years age noun V
yes opposite of no noun V
yes an answer that agrees noun V
yesterday the day before today noun V
youth between childhood and manhood noun V
zero nothing noun V
zoo wild animal park noun C


Biemiller, A. (2009). Parent/Caregiver Narrative: Vocabulary Development (0 – 60 Months). In L.M. Phillips (Ed.), Handbook of language and literacy development: A Roadmap from 0 – 60 Months. [online], pp. 1 - 42. London, ON: Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. Available at: Handbook of language and literacy development