Word Smart: Word Construction

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There are four main kinds of word formation: prefixes, suffixes, conversion and compounds.

We add prefixes before the base or stem of a word.

Examples                                       Prefixes

monorail, monolingual               mono – means ‘one’
multipurpose, multicultural      multi – means ‘many’


We add suffixes after the base or stem of a word. The main purpose of a suffix is to show what class of word it is (e. g. noun or adjective).

Examples                                           Suffixes
terrorism, sexism                             – ism and – dom are used to form nouns.
employer, actor                      – er and – or are used to form nouns to describe people who do things.


Conversion involves the change of a word from one word clases to another. For example, the verbs to email and to microwave are formed from the nouns email and microwave:

Can you text her? (verb from noun text, meaning to send a text–message)
If you’re not careful, some downloads can damage your computer. (noun from verb download)

We also use conversion when we change a proper noun into a common noun:
Has anybody seen my Dickens? (copy of a book by Dickens)


When we use compunding, we link together two or more bases to create a new word. Normally, the first item identifies a key feature of the second word. For example, the two bases back and ache can combine to form the compound noun backache, and the two bases post and card combine to form the compound noun postcard.

Compounds are found in all word classes. The most common types are:
Nouns: car, park, rock band
Adjectives: heartbreaking, sugar-free, airsick
Verbs: oven-bake, baby-sit, chain-smoke
Adverbs: good–naturedly, nevertheless



  • Noun: Word (s) that give name to people, things, places, situations
  • Adjective: Word(s) that describe nouns
  • Verb: Word (s) that represent actions
  • Adverb: Word (s) that describe adjetives, verbs and other adverbs


The grammar names of the parts of the speech should only be used during the time of the activity so members are able to identify them accurately but not during normal workouts.


  • Do you have any doubts about the subject?

Welcome to this activity created by Senior Advisor Mr. Felipe Sierra Baltazar from Coapa Branch. Take note of all the pink words, read the text, watch the video and answer the question in the comment section below.

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