What is a letter string?

What is a letter string?
Learning certain letter strings will help your child with their reading and spelling. Find out about different letter strings and tips to help your child remember them.

What is a letter string?

A letter string is a group of letters that appear in a word. For example, these words:

string  straight  strike  strain

all contain the letter string 'str'. Children in Key Stage 1 may find this letter string difficult to read or spell, so teachers may help them with this, by giving them a variety of activities that encourage them to read or spell these words.

Teachers may also concentrate on letter strings that come at the end of a word. For example: all these words have the letter string 'ight':

light   right   sight   tight

Teachers may encourage children to learn to read and spell these words, by giving them spelling lists containing words that all have the same letter string to take home. The more the children read and write these words, the more they will embed the knowledge that the letters 'ight' always make the same sound.

Teachers may also draw children's attention to the fact that two words may contain the same letter string, but with different pronunciation, for example:

height    weight

Both these words have the letter string 'eight', however it is pronounced differently with each word.

Similarly, these words:

drought   brought

have the same letter strings 'ought' but are pronounced differently.

Tricky letter strings

Sometimes a letter string can come up very often in books read, but a teacher may notice many children in her class are spelling it wrong. A common one is: 'ould' found in the words:

could   should  would

Sometimes teachers give children a mnemonic to help them learn certain letter strings. A mnemonic is a memory aid, where a word is given for each letter that needs to be remembered. A popular mnemonic for 'ould' is 'o u lucky duck'.

Children often find the letter string at the start of the word 'beautiful' difficult to remember, as it is made up of three vowels. A good mnemonic to remember this is 'big elephants always understand'.