Word Formation in English

Vocabulary building

  • -tion/-sion = Action (demonstration, expansion, admission, exploration, authorization)
  • -ment = action or its result (punishment, argument, development, enlargement, unemployment)
  • -al = Action or its result (denial, refusal, trial, renewal, proposal)
  • -ance/-ence = Action or result (dependence, attendance, acceptance, interference)


Noun Suffixes

  • -ship = State or condition (friendship, citizenship, leadership, authorship, membership)
  • -cy = state or condition (bankruptcy, constancy, decency, accuracy, normalcy)
  • -ry/-ery = Action, condition, occupation (slavery, foolery, dentistry, cookery, chemistry)
  • -ility/-ity/-ty = state or condition (ability, simplicity, cruelty, readability, visibility, stability)
  • - er = profession, purposeful device, origin of persons (banker, bookseller, container, locker, Londoner)
  • -ee = sb affected by s th/sb (employee, chatee, interviewee, evaqcuee)
  • -ant/-ent = sb who carries out (servant, inhabitant, informant, solvent)
  • -ing = result (building, clothing, painting)
  • -ify = to make, to cause (simplify, prettify, classify, exemplify, justify)
  • -ize/-ise = to make, to treat in the way of (civilize, organize, Americanize, legalize, nationalize, popularize)
  • -en = to make, to make become (shorten, blacken, darken, harden, weaken, widen, sadden, deafen, deepen)
  • -ate = to add or provide with (urinate, ventilate, dehydrate, duplicate, differentiate)


Verb Suffixes

  • -able/-ible = sth that is/can be (drinkable , available, breakable, portable, reliable, responsible, audible)
  • -al = of the nature/origin of (natural, tridal, accidental, musical, criminal, educational, editorial, continental)
  • -en = materials (wooden, woolen, golden/gold)
  • -ese/-an/-ian/-ish = origin (Japanese, Portuguese, British, Turkish, German, Russian)

Adjective Suffixes [1]

  • -ful = full of, of the nature of (doubtful, powerful, careful, useful, helpful, spoonful, handful, tactful)
  • -ic = of the nature of (comic, domestic, aristocratic, dramatic, phonetic, systematic, energetic)
  • -ical = of the nature of (economical, biological, comical, historical)
  • -ing = sth experienced like (amazing, amusing, shocking)

Adjective Suffixes [2]

  • -less = devoid of (homeless, endless, careless, spotless, thoughtless, jobless, nameless)
  • -ly = periodic occurrence (daily, monthly, yearly, quarterly)
  • -like = behaving like (childlike, gentlemanlike, godlike)
  • -ward = in the direction of (homeward, eastward, onward, backward, forward)
  • -y = of the nature of (funny, rusty, bony, nervy, catchy, sticky, headachy, classy)

Adjective Suffixes [3]

  • a- = not, lacking in, not affected by (amoral, atheist, asymmetry, asexual, apolitical)
  • dis- = not, absolute opposite (disloyal, distrust, disabled, dislike, disagree, disadvantage)
  • non- = lacking in (non – fiction, non-political, non-neutral)



Negative prefixes [1]

  • un- = opposite (unhappy, unfair, unreal, unexpected, unproductive) Before words of French origin:
  • in – (insane, injustice, intolerance, inconvenient)
  • il - = before I – (illegal, illogical)
  • im - = before P – (imperfect, impatient, improbable, immture)
  • ir - = before r - (irregular, irresponsible, irreplaceable, irrelevant)

Negative prefixes [2]

  • Economic – deal with economy
  • Economical – less wasteful
  • Economically is the adverb form of both words
  • Historical – took place in history, it is from the past
  • Historic – has significance in the history (event, person)
  • Historically is the adverb form of both words

Beware the differences

  • Alternate = /ɔ : 1 ‘ t3 : (r) nət/ adj. following by turns, one after the other, a substitute or second, every other in a series
  • Alernately is the adverb form
  • Alternate / ‘ɔːltə (r) neɪt/ = verb related to the adjective = to go back and forth
  • Alternative = adj. /ɔ : 1 ‘t3 : (r) nətIV/, noun /ɔ : 1 ‘t3 : (r) nətIV/, refers to be able to be used instead of sth, the other choice
  • Alternatively is the adverb form
  • Bad = adjectives, describes nouns or pronouns, often used with verbs like look, feel, sound, or to be.
    Incorrect: She felt badly about missing the date.
    Correct: She felt bad about missing the date.
  • Badly = adverb, describes verbs and should be used with all verbs other than linking verbs. It usually answers the question “How?”
    Incorrect: Mudville played bad last night.
    Correct: Mudville played badly last night.
  • Continual = repeated again and again
  • Continuous = uninterrupted
  • It was continually interrupted by the telephone.
  • It rained continuously for forty-eight hours.
  • Different from X Different than?
  • Different from is standard English – proper use
  • Different than is nonstandard – improper use
  • Special = adj. = particular, designed for a particular purpose
  • Specially = adv. = particularly, for a particular purpose
  • Especial = adj. = exceptional, noteworthy, particular
  • Especially = adv. = exceptionally, in a noteworthy manner, or particularly
    In the sense of particular or particularly – synonyms
    Stressing the exceptional quality = especial/especially
    Stressing the distinctive purpose of something = special/specially
    This program has specially designed macros for word processors. X He did especially well in All-Star Game
  • Farther = length or distance = comparative form of far when referring to distance
  • Further = to a greater degree, additional, additionally. It refers to time or amount = comparative form of far when meaning much
    London is farther north than Juneau. (distance)
    This plan requires further study. (additional study, refers to amount)
    According to my timetable, we should be further along. (time)
  • Good = adj. = describes nouns or pronouns, used also with verbs like look, feel, sound, taste, or be to describe the subject
    Incorrect: The coffee tasted well this morning.
    Correct: The coffee tasted good this morning.
    Correct: The pitcher is looking good today.
  • Well = adv. = describes verbs (sometimes adjectives), used with most other verbs
  • Well as an adj. means healthy
    Correct: He pitches well.
    Incorrect: I do not feel very good.
    Correct: I do not feel very well. (healthy)
  • Number of Amount?
  • Use the word amount with quantities that cannot be counted and number with quantities that could be counted one-by-one.
  • He had a small amount of ammunition left.
  • He had a small number of bullets left.
  • Perspective = noun = point of view, especially the ability to see the whole of something (in art- the ability to draw three dimensional objects using two dimensional ones)
    The prefix per-means completely
  • Prospective = adj. = future or potential
    The prefix pro – means forward
  • Prospect = noun form
    The Latin root of both words, -spect-, means to see. So perspective literally means seeing completely and prospective means seeing ahead.
  • Quote = verb = to repeat the words of a writer or speaker
  • Quotation = noun = words quoted, the act of quoting
  • Quotation marks = punctuation marks used to highlight a written quotation
    Correct: He quoted Shakespeare frequently.
    Incorrect: We listened to a long quote from the government report.
    Correct: We listened to a long quotation from the government report.
    Incorrect: You need to put this part in quotes.
    Correct: You need to put this part in quotation marks.
  • Raise = to make higher, to build, to nurture and cause to grow. It is normally transitive, that is, the action is done to something or someone else. It is a regular verb.
  • Rise = to get up, become elevated. It is never transitive. The past tense is rose; the past participle, risen.
    They raised the barn in two days.
    He was raised by his grandparents.
    The sun rises and sets every day.
  • Real = adjective, modifies only nouns or pronouns
  • Really = adverb, modifies verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs
  • Correct: He stayed at hotels with real class.
    (Class is a noun. The adjective modifies it.)
  • Incorrect: He stayed at a real classy hotel.
    (Classy is an adjective. It should be modified by an adverb.)
  • Correct: He stayed at a really classy hotel.
    (The adjective classy is modified by the adverb.)
  • Sure = adjective, modifies nouns or pronouns
  • Surely = adverb, modifies verbs, adjectives, or adverbs
  • Correct: It is a sure thing.
    (Thing is a noun. An adjective modifies it.)
  • Incorrect: It is sure hot outside.
    (Hot is an adjective. It should be modified by an adverb.)
  • Correct: It is surely hot outside.
    (Hot is an adjective. An adverb modifies it.)
  • Borrow = from someone
  • Lend = to someone
    Can I borrow your bike, please?
    I can lend you my bike if you want.
  • Bring = to carry to a nearer place from a more distant one
  • Take = to carry to a more distant place from a nearer one
    Bring that file over here.
    Take this package to the post office.
  • Learn = to educate oneself
  • Teach = to educate others
    I am a student and I am learning about adjectives.
    She is teaching us how to use adjectives.
  • Try And or Try To?
  • Try and followed by a verb is nonstandard = improper use
  • Always use try to

    Incorrect: Try and do it again.
    Correct: Try to do it again.
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