Tricky Words

Letters & Sounds and the KS1 Spelling Curriculum

Tricky words are not decodable using phonics alone as they have spellings that do not show grapheme-phoneme correspondence. They are called common exception words in the KS1 Spelling Curriculum.

Letters and Sounds sets out high-frequency words (including tricky words) to be taught within each phase.

The KS1 Spelling Curriculum specifies common exception words to be taught in KS1.

Monster Phonics

Monster Phonics makes teaching these words easier. See how colour-coding for sound facilitates learning tricky words. Download free Monster Phonics flashcards and PowerPoints. We also recommend that the first 100 words and next 200 high-frequency words are taught to ensure that all children are able to read and spell these words which make up 65% of all printed words. High-frequency word flashcards, PowerPoints, word charts and assessment are available to download as part of the Monster Phonics programme.

A complete phonics programme with phonics books matched to the curriculum

Improves Engagement & Accelerates Learning

High-Frequency Words to be taught at each Letters & Sounds Phase

Tricky words are shown in bold; Reception High-frequency words are shaded.

Phonics Tricky Words
Phonics Tricky Words List

Browse the phased phonics teaching structure for schools.


What are tricky words?
Tricky words are those words which cannot be sounded out easily. Emergent readers may find them difficult to read as they have not yet learned some of the Graphemes in those words.
What are Common Exception Words?
Tricky words are called common exception words in the KS1 Spelling Curriculum.
What else are tricky words referred to as?
Tricky words are sometimes known as irregular words, Common Exception Words or sight words.