Structure of Words and Word Formation

Structure of Words and Word Formation

Structure of Words and Word Formation… we will be looking in detail the structures of words and word formation in english language. We have provided a full detail on formation and structure of words here. See Punctuation Marks in English Language.


Apart from most monosyllabic words, many words in English language are mere admixtures of various component parts Polysyllabic words like antidisestablishmentarian and pneumonoultramiscro-copicsilicovol canokonrils (a lung congestion caused by the inhalation of quartz dust) consist of an almalgan  of small parts called affixes Anadisestablishmentariardsm for instance, can be broken down into anti-against or hostile to), dis –  (separation or reversal) establish (to make secure or stable), ment (a result or a product of ), arian (believing or producing), – ism, (state, manner, act, doctrine)   The core of the word (establish) to which other parts are added is called the stew, the root, or the base. It cannot occur in the beginning, end or middle of the word.

Structure of Words and Word Formation

When affixes occur before the root, they are called prefixes whereas those that occur after the root are called suffixes. Prefixes can be ameliorative as in benevolence, omnipotent’ etc; or pejorative as in catastrophe. Inmost situations, some words rankshift and assume positions that are similar to those affixes. Thus words like deadwood, bookcase, figurehead makeshift, etc are examples of roots taking on another root, Also, though some suffixes look like roots the distinguishing factor is that a suffix often expresses a state or condition as in capable, smartness, union paucity etc.

Some of the uses of prefixes and suffixes are-

Enter your email address and subscribe to get latest updates
  1. To negate the meaning of words e.g happy and unhappy.
  2. To Intensify the meaning of words eg. Ultra modem
  3. To show direction. E.g postscript, submarine
  4. To denote number of degree eg. Pellucid, unicellular, etc
  5. To show time e.g looked, asked
  6. To show part of speech e.g slowly, graduation, etc

Sixty percent of English language roots are based on Latin and the rest on Greek, Old English and roots from other languages like French. The roots, the suffixes and prefixes of the English language are outlined below, note that there is a third category of affixes called Infix. This results in a situation where an affix is incorporated inside another word. This pattern is not common in the English language. But Instances of infixation occur in the pluralization or tense formation of some parts of the English speech. For instance, the addition of-ou-in fought (fight) and -ee-in geese (goose) are used to exemplify infixes in the English language.


Essentially, knowledge of roots and affixes help to a great extent in the process, of word formation it gives the writer a reassuring sign of vitality and creativeness, as he shapes language to suit his communication needs. Some of the ways in which words are formed include coinage, borrowing, compounding, blending, clipping, backformation, conversion, acronyms and derivation.

  1. Coinage is the invention of totally new words and the assimilation of the same into everyday words in the language. For instance, some trade names like Xerox and aspirin have been absorbed into the standard English Vocabulary.
  2. Borrowing is the taking over of words from other languages. The history of the English language is replete with evidence of many loan-words that have been absorbed into the English language at times there are direct translation of the elements of a word into the English language through Calquing or loan translation. For instance, even loan-word is believed to be a translation of the German Lehnwort.
  3. Compounding is the joining of two separate words to produce a single form. Examples are bookcase, textbook, waterbed, sunburn, etc.
  4. Blending is achieved by taking the beginning of one word and joining it to the end of another word. For instance. Smog is the combined effect of smoke and fog while modotel is a combined effect of modem and hotel. Other examples are brunch (breakfast/lunch), Motel (motor/hotel), telecast (television/broadcast), etc.
  5. Clipping is the reduction of a-more-than-one-syllable word to a shorter form as in gas (gasoline) ad (advertisement) fan (fanatic), etc
  6. Backformation occurs when a word of one type is reduced to form another word of a different type. For instance, television (a noun) was established before televise (a verb) was created from it. Other examples are edit (editor, edition), donate (donation) opt (opting) etc.
  7. Conversion is a process of category or functional shift in which a word comes to be used in another category. For instance, vacation (a noun) can be used as a verb without any reduction. Eg. He is vacationing in Lagos.
  8. Acronyms is the formation of new words from the initial letters of a set of other words. They occur initially as capital letters (as in UNESCO and ECOWAS) and later lose capitals to become everyday words. Examples are Ufo (unidentified flying objects), radar (radio detecting and ranging), etc.
  9. Derivation is accomplished in a situation where words are formed by means of affixes as in the use of un-, mis-, pre-, epi-, .-ful, etc. Examples are unhappy, misjudge, joyful, epidermis, etc.


You have gotton information on Structure of Words and Word Formation. Feel free to share to friends and family members

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.