VR - Compound Words


Pick two words, one from the top list and one from the bottom list, that together form a new, correctly spelt word.

(hall room call)
(side way phone)

There are nine possible combinations which have to be picked over. They are:

hallside hallway hallphone
roomside roomway roomphone
callside callway callphone

It is clear to someone familiar with language that ‘hallway’ is the only combination of the available parts to form a new word. Most children should be able to answer a question like this as there are only a few options and some are instantly wrong, however the trouble is that the more you look at words, the more reasonable the wrong ones appear! A child who is not familiar with the correct answer will soon convince him- or herself that there are words which aren’t sensible. If you live in a building where there is no hallway and you’re not familiar with it, you may start to convince yourself that a ‘callphone’ is reasonable. I’ve seen it happen! Encourage your child to look at every letter (it doesn’t say ‘cellphone’) and avoid going for ‘something that has two words that are connected’ unless there really is no other alternative.

Technique tip:

In reality there’s no time to write out all the words so encourage your child to say the combinations in their heads. This will certainly help solve the answers which are compound words. If there is no apparent answer then look to write out some combinations as you will find that the words change their pronunciation when added together, as in the ‘reappear’ example.

Example 2

Pick two words, one from the top list and one from the bottom list, that together form a new, correctly spelt word.

(electricity farm work)
(meter metre yard)

There is a clear trick here and often there will be in this section. The attempt by the setter is to make you think that ‘electricity meter’ would be a genuine word. It isn’t, of course – it’s clearly two words. The fact that there are two words that sound identical (homophones) encourages a weak candidate to take notice of these and not the other. All options have to be investigated, potentially by writing things out (albeit not the full nine options) and when you do, you discover the combination which produces ‘farmyard’.

Technique tip:

Bear in mind that there are unlikely to be any obscure, hyphenated combinations of words here. Words formed will be at a level of a bright eleven-year-old and although many are compound words (ones which are made of two clear separate parts, e.g. blackboard) there are plenty which are simply words that can be split to form other words, e.g. reappear. (‘reap’ + ‘pear’; the constituent parts have no bearing on the meaning of the whole word)

Example 3

Pick two words, one from the top list and one from the bottom list, that together form a new, correctly spelt word.

(miss throw imp)
(air take pair)

It is worth getting your child – assuming they aren’t in a mad rush – to write out the combination of letters they have chosen to check the spelling of a word in this sort of question. If it’s clear, don’t waste time; where there are several similar answers a written method helps to confirm an answer.

In the question above the setter is trying to do two things. Firstly, to look at combining ‘miss’ and ‘take’ to misspell ‘mistake’ and secondly to combine ‘imp’ and ‘pair’ to misspell ‘impair’. This is a really difficult thing for a dyslexic child to manage; writing possible combinations would hopefully clarify it here. The answer is ‘imp’ + ‘air’

Technique tip:

Watch out for spelling things with double letters –‘ reap’ +’ ear’ does not produce a word whereas ‘reap’ + ‘pear’ does. At this point spelling, rather than vocabulary, is being tested. While there will be tricks to watch for, the six word choices are always genuine and there are never any ‘non-words’ in there, even if your child is unfamiliar with any of them.

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