Vocabulary for Explanations

Learn about the types of vocabulary used in explanation writing.

One of the biggest challenges young writers face when learning how to explain something in writing is using the appropriate vocabulary. This page explores the types of vocabulary needed for your child to create clear and compelling explanations!

What type of vocabulary should be used in explanation writing?

While learners will arrive at explanatory texts with prior knowledge of the vocabulary and features the texts have, it’s important that they understand how they are particularly used within this type of writing. This includes language features, sentence structure, and word choice.

Formal language

When writing an explanation text, using formal language makes the piece sound clearer and well-informed. Formal language helps to articulate ideas accurately, ensuring that readers can grasp the points being presented.

In explanation writing, formal language can include technical terms needed to properly inform the audience, such as “photosynthesis” in an essay detailing how this biological process happens. It’s important that these technical terms are explained thoroughly and as early on as possible, preferably in the introduction of the piece.

Linking sentences

Linking sentences serve as bridges between ideas, helping young learners write smooth transitions. These sentences, often initiated by transitional phrases such as 'finally,' 'to begin with,' 'next,' 'secondly,' and 'additionally,' are particularly beneficial in explanation writing.

Cause-and-effect words

Cause-and-effect words play a vital role in creating connections between ideas. They better the reader's understanding of how different concepts relate to one another. Using words like 'therefore,' 'as a result of,' 'because of this,' and 'since', improves the coherence of explanation writing.

Action verbs

Action verbs add energy and clarity to a piece of writing, helping readers vividly imagine what's happening. When explaining things, whether that’s how to tie their shoelaces, or how to bake the perfect chocolate cake, choosing action verbs makes it easier for the audience to understand exactly what to do!

Time connectives

Time connectives guide readers through the sequence of events, helping them follow explanations smoothly. For example, using words like "first," "next," and "finally" will make it easier for the audience to understand the correct order of events in your child’s piece of writing. For example, when explaining a process or telling a story, remind your child to sprinkle in these time connectives to ensure that readers can follow along seamlessly.

Activity & resource

Use this free resource to to build your child’s vocabulary for explanation writing:

Useful Vocabulary activity

How Night Zookeeper can help

Night Zookeeper makes reading & writing fantastically fun for children aged six to twelve!

Our reading & writing program uses gamification and includes thousands of writing activities and teaching resources, such as word games, tutorials, interactive lessons, and printable worksheets, to keep children engaged and entertained as they learn.

Sign up today to get a FREE 7-day trial!

More explanation writing resources

Related content

  • Creative Writing Prompts for Kids
  • Elementary Writing Activities
  • Elementary Writing Prompts
  • Language Arts Resources
  • Elementary Language Arts
  • Elementary Writing Curriculum
  • Banner
    Children holding a tablet

    Make Reading & Writing Fantastically Fun!

    • Award-winning reading & writing program for kids
    • Improves spelling, grammar, punctuation & vocabulary
    • Over 1,000 different learning games and activities
    Learn More
    2011-2024. Wonky Star Ltd
    Registered Company No. 07706300