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The Basic Spelling Vocabulary List

By: Steven Graham, Karen R. Harris, and Connie Loynachan

This list was devised to help educators know which spelling words should be taught to children. The list contains 850 words that account for 80 percent of the words children use in their writing; the ones they need to be able to spell correctly.

Mastering this relatively small corpus of words yields a high rate of return. For example, the most common 1,000 words are used 13 times more frequently than the next most common 1,000 words. It also provides teachers flexibility in planning spelling instruction, providing an opportunity to give children the "basics" while supplementing with other spelling words germane to classroom activities.

Grade level for each word was determined based upon difficulty, pattern of occurrence in children's writing across grades, and grade placement on current vocabulary lists and spelling materials. Words that children have difficulty spelling correctly are marked with an asterisk.

<h2 align="center">Grade 1

a
all
am*
and*
at
ball
be
bed
big
book
box
boy*
but
came*
can*
car
cat
come*
cow
dad
day*
did
do
dog*

fat
for
fun*
get*
go
good*
got*
had*
hat
he*
hen
here
him*
his*
home*
hot
I*
if
in*
into*
is
it*
its*
let

like*
look
man
may
me*
mom
my*
no*
not
of
oh
old
on*
one*
out*
pan
pet
pig
play*
ran
rat
red
ride
run

sat
see
she
sit
six
so
stop
sun
ten
the*
this
to*
top
toy
two*
up
us
was*
we*
will*
yes
you*



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<h2 align="center">Grade 2

about*
add
after
ago
an*
any
apple
are*
as
ask
ate
away
baby*
back
bad
bag
base
bat
bee
been*
before*
being
best
bike
bill
bird
black
blue
boat
both
bring
brother*
brown
bus
buy*
by
cake
call
candy
change
child
city
clean
club
coat
cold
coming*
corn
could
cry
cup
cut
daddy*
dear
deep
deer
doing
doll
door
down*
dress
drive
drop
dry
duck
each
eat
eating
egg
end
fall
far
farm
fast

father*
feed
feel
feet
fell*
find
fine*
fire
first*
fish
five
fix
flag
floor
fly
food
foot
four
fox
from*
full
funny
game
gas
gave
girl
give
glad
goat
goes*
going*
gold
gone
grade*
grass
green
grow
hand
happy
hard
has*
have*
hear*
help
here*
hill
hit
hold
hole
hop
hope*
horse
house*
how*
ice
inch
inside*
job
jump
just*
keep
king
know*
lake
land
last
late
lay
left
leg
light
line
little*
live

lives
long
looking
lost
lot
love
mad
made*
make*
many*
meat
men
met
mile
milk
mine
miss
moon
more
most
mother*
move
much*
must
myself*
nail
name*
need
new*
next
nice*
night
nine
north
now*
nut
off*
only
open
or*
other
our
outside*
over
page
park
part
pay
pick
plant
playing
pony
post
pull
put
rabbit
rain
read
rest
riding
road
rock
room
said*
same
sang
saw*
say
school*
sea
seat
seem
seen
send*

set
seven
sheep
ship
shoe
show*
sick
side
sing
sky
sleep
small
snow
some*
soon*
spell
start
stay
still
store*
story
take
talk
tall
teach
tell
than*
thank
that
them*
then*
there*
they*
thing
think*
three
time*
today*
told
too*
took
train*
tree
truck
try
use
very*
walk
want*
warm
wash
way
week
well*
went*
were*
wet
what
when*
while*
white
who
why
wind
wish
with*
woke
wood
work
yellow
yet
your
zoo


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<h2 align="center">Grade 3

able
above
afraid
afternoon*
again*
age
air
airplane
almost
alone
along*
already*
also
always*
animal
another*
anything*
around*
art
aunt*
balloon*
bark
barn
basket
beach
bear
because*
become
began
begin
behind
believe*
below
belt
better
birthday*
body
bones
born
bought*
bread
bright
broke
brought*
busy
cabin
cage
camp
can't*
care
carry
catch
cattle
cave
children*
class
close*
cloth
coal
color
corner
cotton
cover
dark
desert
didn't*
dinner
dishes
does
done
don't*
dragon
draw
dream
drink
early
earth
east
eight

even
ever
every*
everyone*
everything*
eyes
face
family*
feeling
felt
few
fight
fishing
flower
flying
follow
forest
forgot
form
found*
fourth
free
Friday
friend*
front
getting*
given
grandmother
great
grew
ground
guess*
hair
half
having*
head
heard*
he's*
heat
hello*
high
himself
hour
hundred
hurry
hurt*
I'd*
I'll*
I'm*
inches
isn't
it's*
I've*
kept
kids
kind
kitten
knew*
knife
lady
large
largest
later
learn
leave
let's*
letter*
life
list
living
lovely
loving*
lunch
mail
making
maybe*
mean
merry
might*

mind
money*
month
morning*
mouse
mouth
Mr.*
Mrs.*
Ms.
music
near
nearly
never
news
noise
nothing
number
o'clock*
often
oil
once*
orange
order
own
pair
paint
paper
party*
pass
past
penny
people*
person
picture
place
plan
plane
please*
pocket
point
poor
race
reach
reading
ready
real
rich
right*
river
rocket
rode
round
rule
running*
salt
says
sending
sent*
seventh
sew
shall
short
shot
should
sight
sister
sitting
sixth
sled
smoke
soap
someone*
something*
sometime*
song
sorry
sound
south
space

spelling
spent
sport
spring
stairs
stand
state
step
stick
stood
stopped*
stove
street
strong
study
such
sugar
summer*
Sunday*
supper
table
taken
taking
talking
teacher*
team
teeth
tenth
that's*
their
these*
thinking
third
those
thought*
throw
tonight*
trade
trick
trip
trying
turn
twelve
twenty
uncle
under
upon*
wagon
wait
walking
wasn't
watch
water
weather*
we're*
west
wheat
where*
which
wife
wild
win
window
winter
without
woman*
won
won't*
wool
word
working
world*
would*
write*
wrong
yard
year
yesterday
you're*


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<h2 align="center">Grade 4

across
against
answer*
awhile*
between
board
bottom
breakfast
broken
build
building
built
captain*
carried
caught*
charge*
chicken
circus
cities
clothes*
company
couldn't*
country
discover
doctor*
doesn't
dollar

during
eighth*
else
enjoy
enough
everybody*
example
except
excuse
field*
fifth
finish
following
good-by*
group
happened*
harden
haven't*
heavy
held
hospital*
idea
instead*
known
laugh
middle
minute

mountain
ninth
ocean
office
parent
peanut
pencil
picnic
police
pretty*
prize
quite*
radio
raise
really*
reason
remember*
return
Saturday*
scare
second
since
slowly
stories
student
sudden
suit

sure*
swimming*
though
threw*
tired
together*
tomorrow*
toward
tried*
trouble
truly*
turtle
until*
village
visit
wear
we'll
whole*
whose
women
wouldn't*
writing*
written
wrote
yell
young


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<h2 align="center">Grade 5

although
America
among
arrive
attention
beautiful*
countries
course*
cousin*
decide

different*
evening
favorite
finally*
future
happiest
happiness
important
interest
piece

planet
present
president
principal*
probably*
problem
receive*
sentence
several
special

suddenly
suppose*
surely*
surprise*
they're*
through
usually




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Graham, S., Harris, K.R. and Loynachan, C. (1993). The Basic Spelling Vocabulary List. Journal of Educational Research 86(6) 363-368.