The importance of word formation
Word formation matters because it helps you
build a bigger vocabulary more quickly
allows you to say things more flexibly
stops you making so many mistakes
If this is new to you read the information at the top of the page, then try the word formation exercises further down to test your skills.
What is it?
Very simply word formation is taking one word and getting more words. See this example for analyse – a key word int he Academic Word List.
It is not one word but many:
analyse – the verb
analysis – a noun
analytical – an adjective
analytically – an adverb
Learning words in this way is part of what my daily word exercise is all about.
Word formation and nouns and suffixes
Nouns are a very large part of the language. Sometimes they are the same form as the verb, for example contract and contract. Very often though we add bits onto the verb or the adjective (suffixes) to make a noun. See below:
significant → significance
vary → variation
involve → involvement
Some common noun suffixes
There are many suffixes for making nouns. here are some of the most common with examples:
ment – require – requirement
tion -accommodate – accommodation
ness – helpful – helpfulness
hood – child – childhood
ence/ance – significant – significance
ancy/ency – current – currency
ity – real – reality
ship – friend – friendship
How do you learn the skill?
I have three slightly different answers.
1. You can learn one word at a time – slow but sure. My daily word will help here.
2. You can learn to identify patterns. -ate verbs mostly make nouns ending –ation. This is quicker but English is a very irregular language so be prepared to be surprised.
3. Practice of course. This is where my exercises below may help you.
Word formation exercises making nouns
Try this exercise with 20 questions to test your knowledge of the most common suffixes (-ment -ation -ity -ence). All the words here come from list 1 of the Academic Word List – the sort of words you need to get right.
Using the nouns in sentences
The next step is to make sure that you can use the words in sentences! It’s no good knowing them otherwise.
Now check that you can use the nouns in paragraphs
This is the real test. These exercises ask you to think about the meaning and form of words in paragraphs.