Glossary: word

Explanation

A word is a unit of grammar: it can be selected and moved around relatively independently, but cannot easily be split. In punctuation, words are normally separated by word spaces. Sometimes, a sequence that appears grammatically to be two words is collapsed into a single written word, indicated with a hyphen or apostrophe (e.g. well-built, he’s).

  • headteacher or head teacher [can be written with or without a space]
  • I’m going out.
  • 9.30 am

Word structure

The study of word structure is called morphology. Understanding word structure helps us:

  • improve spelling
  • expand vocabulary

In studying word structure, we start by looking at a few key concepts first:

  • root words
  • prefixes
  • suffixes

Root words are words, or parts of words, that can usually stand alone. The following are all root words:

Word structure: Derivation

Derivation is the process of creating new words. The technical term derivational morphology is the study of the formation of new words. Here are some examples of words which are built up from smaller parts:

Word structure: Inflection

Inflection is the process by which a single word takes different forms. For example, if we have the noun cat, we can add a plural ending to it to create cats. This is known as inflecting a noun and the ending we add is called a suffix.

What are the plural forms of the following nouns?

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