Word formation

The term "word " is part of everyone's vocabulary. It is the syntactic atom in a sentence. In the semantic definition, "words are the meaningful unified concepts. " Not all words are words, if they have no specific meaning. In the morphological term, words are the composed of one or more morphemes.

For example:-

akrhcd, hfdyur etc. are not words, actually. Why? Because they have no specific meaning, they are merely a combination of letters. On the other hand, boy, mango, apple, mother etc. have their own meaning and that’s why they are considered as words. Besides this, acronym (words, composite of initial letters) such as, UK (United Kingdom), USA (United States of America), WHO (World Health Organization) etc. are also known as words as they have specific meaning.

Properties of words

1. Words are entities having a parts of speech specification.

2. Words are syntactic atoms.

3. Words (usually) have one main stress.

4. Words (usually) have indivisible units.


Definition: The area of the grammar concerned with the structure of the words and with the relationship between words involving the morphemes that compose them, is called morphology.

Etymology: The term “morpheme” comes from Greek word "morphe " means "form, shape ". In grammatical term, morpheme means "the smallest meaningful unit in a language. "

Morpheme: A morpheme is the smallest part of a word that has grammatical function or meaning.

There are three types of morphemes

They are following:

1. Root (base) morphemes

2. Derivational morphemes

3. Inflectional morphemes

Root morpheme: A root morpheme is the basic form to which other morphemes are attached. In the other sense, the meaningful part of a word is called root morpheme.

For example:-

Sickness = Sick (root/base morpheme) + ness (suffix).

Derivational morphemes: Morphemes which are added to forms to create separate words are called derivational morphemes. In the other sense, morphemes which change not only, meaning but parts of speech, too, called derivational morphemes.

For instance:-

Happy = Adjective }

Change in parts of speech and also in meaning.

Happiness = Noun }

Inflectional morphemes: Morphemes that do not create separate words and merely modify the words in which they occur in order to indicate grammatical properties such as, plurality(s = cows) or past tense '(ed called) are called inflectional morphemes. In the other sense, the morphemes that merely change the meaning but, do not change parts of speech, are called inflectional morphemes.

For example:-

Happy = Adjective

Unhappy = Adjective change in meaning but, same parts of speech.

Again, there are two types of morphemes and they are given below

1. Free morphemes: They can be defined as root/base morphemes because of having their own meaning like root morphemes.

For example:-

Kind + ness = free morpheme + suffix.

2. Bound morphemes: Meaningless parts of words such as, prefix and suffix (jointly affix), called bound morphemes.

For example:-

Prefix = en, im, un etc. and Suffix = ness, ce, cy, less etc.



Prefix/bound morpheme Root Suffix/bound
Morpheme (-In) (-accurate-) (-ly)

We can also define free and bound morphemes in the following ways

Free morphemes: Morphemes that can stand on their own, called free morphemes.

Bound morphemes: Morphemes that can’t stand on their own, called bound morphemes.

Free morpheme Bound morpheme
Read - able = readable Leg - ible = legible
Hear - ing = hearing Audi - ence = audience
En - large = enlarge Rend - ition = rendition
Perform - ance = performance Clar - ity = clarity
Dark - en = darken Magn - ify = magnify
Seek - er = seeker Applica - ant = applicant

According to structure. We can also classify the morphemes into two categories

1. Monomorphemic: consisting of only one morpheme.

2. Polymorphemic: consisting of more than one morpheme.

English has eight (8) inflectional morphemes. They are following

Noun (-s) Plural form Girls, boys, dogs etc.
Noun phrase (-s) Comparative form Bird’s song, girl’s school etc.
Adjectives/adverbs (-er) Comparative form Better, finer, taller Smaller etc.
(-est) Superlative form Best, finest, smallest etc.
Verbs (-s) 3rd personal singular Sings, provides, kills etc.
(-ed) Past tense Provided, killed, watered etc.
(-ing) Progressive/present Participle Is singing, is providing etc.
(-en) Past participle Was eaten, has proven etc.

Allomorphs: Morphemes having two or more different pronunciation, called allomorphs.

For instance:-

Morphemes Pronunciation
Cat Cats (s)
Lamp Lamps (s)
Dog/day Dogs/days (z)
Horse Horses (iz) or (ez)

Zero derivation: Changes of parts of speech without any corresponding formal change, called zero derivation. It is also known as conversion of functional shift.

Verb Noun
Water (pouring water) Water (material noun)
Sentence (giving punishment) Sentence (common noun)
Hit (knocking/killing) Hit (common noun)
Request (appeal/prayer) Request (solicitation)

Other sources of words.

Coining: It is the creation of new word without any reference to the existing morphological resources, that is, solely out of the sounds of the language.


googol-10 100 It is first invented 1940 by 9 years old nephew of a mathematician.

Actually, its appliance is rare.

Abbreviation: It means shorting of existing words to create other words, usually informal version of originals.


Mohammad = Md.

Bangladesh = Bangladesh etc.

Acronym: Words, composite of initial letters, called acronyms.


Uk = United Kingdom,

USA = United state of America,

NDC = Notre Dame College,

Du = University of Dhaka etc.

Blending: It means taking two or more words removing parts of each and joining residues together to create a new word whose from meaning taken from the source words.

Source words Blending
Prevent + Acid Prevocid
Motor + Hotel Motel
Web + Seminar Webinar
Erase + Racism Eracism
Smoke + Fog Smog

Borrowing: It means coping a word that originally belonged in one language into another language.

English words Borrowing Bengali words Borrowing
Homicide Latin Jannat Arabic
Chores Greek Namaz Parsian
Mississipi (river) German Lichu Chinese

However, our daily words can be divided into the following classes

A. Name/naming words (Nouns/pronouns)

B. Doing/action words (Verbs)

C. Structure words (Prepositions/conjunctions)

D. Modifying words (Adverbs/adjectives)

E. Exclamatory words (Interjections)

N.B. This classification is also known as parts of speech, word classes or syntactic categories.

Now, I am going to discuss how prefix and suffix make new words.

Prefix: The word “prefix” comes from Latin word “praefixum” (here, pare means before) means “fix in front, fasten on before”. So, we can say, words those precede before the root/morphemes, called prefix.

Prefix Meaning New words
a Up/out A Arise/awake
a In/on A Asleep/abate/away
ab Bad/opposite Abnormal/abuse
ad To Adjunct/adjoin
al All Almost/alone
anti/ante Before Antecedent
anti Opposite Antibiotic/antidote
auto Self-regulated Autograph
bi Two Bilateral/bicycle
di Twice Dioxide
be By Beside/beware
de Down Detrain/decent
dis Apart/opposite Dismiss/dishonour
co With Cooperate/co-exist
en In/on Enable/encourage
ex Out of/former Ex-student/extract
in Opposite Inability/income
ir Opposite Irregular/irrelevant
im Opposite Impolite/impossible
il Opposite Illegal/illicit
extra More/beyond Extra-ordinary
inter Among/within Interrelated/interlink
fore Before Forefather/foretell
hypo Under Hypothalamus
hyper Over/beyond Hypertension
mal Ill/bad Malfunction
mis Bad/opposite Misbehaviour
non Not/opposite Non-stop/nonsense
sub Under Subway/sub-inspector
semi Half Semi-vowel/semicircle
un Not/opposite Unable/unattractive
re Again Regain/restart/reassign
trans Across Transparent/transport
ultra Beyond/over Ultramodern/ultraviolet

Suffix: The word “Suffix” comes from Latin word “Suffixum/suffixus” and it means “fasten/fix on/fasten below”. So, we can say, suffix is an meaningless syllable that has to ability to make a meaningful word (noun/adjective/verb etc.) adding to the end of the other words. It can change the meaning of the base word.

Suffix Meaning New words
ar Doer Liar/beggar
er/eer Doer Speaker/driver/worker.
or Doer Sailor/vendor/protector
ess Doer Actress/poetess
en Doer/action Citizen/waken
an Doer Artesian/magician
on Doer Onion/union
ist Doer Psychologist/biologist
ness State Kindness/goodness
ism Action Criticism/mannerism
ly State Lovely/friendly
ty State Identify/unity/utility
ation/tion Result Attention/formation
logy State Psychology/biology
ment Result Document/agreement
ship State Friendship/hardship
hood State Brotherhood/manhood
able Action Capable/movable
ate Action Fortunate
less Condition Valueless/fruitless
ize/ise Action Localize/organise/ze
ive Condition Active/creative
ine Condition Feminine/feline
ed Condition Gifted/worked
fold Number Three-fold/two-fold
ible Condition Possible/liable
full/ful Condition Joyful/useful
kin Diminutives Napkin/chicken
let Diminutives Anklet/booklet
dom Condition Kingdom/wisdom
tute Condition Institute/constitute
age Result Bandage/garbage
yer Doer Lawyer
sion Action Illusion/television
cy Result/condition Accuracy/fancy
ence Result/state Difference/conference
ance Result/state Assistance/abundance
wise Manner Likewise/clockwise
wards Direction Towards/upwards
tude Condition Attitude/magnitude
ish Action Banish/punish