Wednesday, 26 January 2011


This post is about words. An average native speaker knows thousands of words. A language student memorizes just a few new words on a daily basis. But the process can become smoother and faster if you understand the inner structure of complex words.

Enjoy your own analyses of word-formation in English:

Deriving adjectives from nouns and verbs
-able = fit for doing, fit for being done (comfortable)
-al (-ial, -ical, -ual) = having the property of (facial)
-an, -ian = belonging to, resembling (reptilian)
-ary = having a tendency or purpose (secondary)
-ate = full of (passionate)
-ese = belonging to a place (Chinese)
More: -esque, -ful,- ish,- less, -some, etc.

Forming abstract nouns
-asy, -acy “state or quality” ecstasy
-age “condition, state, rank, office of” coinage, postage
-ance, -ence “state, act, fact of” emergence
More: -ade,- al,- ation,- ery,- ry,- hood, ism –ity, -ment, -ness, -ship, etc.

Forming nouns
-ant, -ent = one who (agent, servant)
-arian = member of (authoritarian, amphibian)
More: -ast, -er, -ist, -ician, etc.

Forming verbs from roots and stems
-ate = cause X to happen (terminate, suffocate)
-en = to become (liken, darken, lessen)
More: -ify, -ize

Miscellaneous suffixes
-arium = locative, a place for of connected with (aquarium, planetarium)
-ess = feminine of X (tigress, actress)
-let = diminutive of X (booklet, starlet)

Do more exercises with Oxford Builder Plus:

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