Topic: Derivation

These resources cover the ways in which new words can be formed, for example by joining two words together or adding an ending to a word. These processes increase the vocabulary of our language, and an understanding of these processes can be helpful in expanding our personal vocabulary knowledge.

Compound word creation

An interactive activity to explore how compounds are made

In this activity, students work with an interactive smart board display to build compound words.

The Activity pages for this starter can be found in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. Each Activity page contains slides that can be displayed using a projector or smart board. 

Compound word creation: Activity 1

An interactive activity to explore how compounds are made

Compound word creation: Activity 2

For each word, see how many compounds you can think of which include the word.

Neoclassical compounds

In this activity, students analyse neoclassical compounds, which are compounds where often the word elements were taken from the classical languages (ancient Greek and Latin) and were combined in new ways in English (the element neo- comes from the Greek for ‘new’). Neoclassical compounds involve combining forms. They are meaningful elements drawn from Greek and Latin, which can combine with other elements to form words.

Activity 1

Building words

Exploring the internal structure of words


  • Identify prefixes, base words, and suffixes.
  • Build words by combining prefixes, base words, and suffixes.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of word classes by identifying the word class of the newly derived words.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of derivational morphology by using newly derived words in sentences.

Lesson Plan

The Activity page appears in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right.

Derived nouns and composition

In this activity we will look at suffixes that can change adjectives and verbs into nouns.

Derived nouns and composition: Activity 1

Complete the examples with nouns which are derived from the highlighted adjectives. The first answer is provided for you.

Anna was late. It annoyed me. → Anna's lateness annoyed me.

Jeff is shy. I didn’t notice this until the party. → I didn’t notice Jeff’s ___ until the party. I didn’t notice Jeff’s shyness until the party.

Morphology - an introduction

In this lesson, students explore word morphology. Morphology is an area of language study concerned with how words are formed. While syntax is about the larger structures formed when words are put together, morphology is about the structure within words.

Noun endings

Exploring suffixes and how they affect word class

In this activity we will look at suffixes which change verbs and adjectives into nouns. This process is a part of derivational morphology

Prefixes in adjectives

In this lesson, students will look at some common prefixes that can be added to adjectives and see how they change meanings.


  • Identify some common prefixes in adjectives.
  • Describe the meanings contributed by common adjective prefixes.
  • Experiment with acceptable and unacceptable prefixes for particular adjectives.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will look at adjectives with distinctive prefixes.

Verb endings

In this activity we will look at suffixes which change adjectives and nouns into verbs. This process is a part of derivational morphology

Compounds: Break apart the words

Break down each of the following words into its meaningful parts. Label each part as either a prefix, a suffix, or a lexical base (a part which can typically be used as a word on its own).

Example: unkindness: un- (prefix) + kind (lexical base) + -ness (suffix)

You can check your work by pressing the buttons to see the answers.

Identify the word formation process

Identify the word formation process by clicking the correct answer.

Y6 GPaS Test: Word families

Select the correct word for the blank:

Spelling: Double consonants

If a root word ends in a consonant, adding a suffix will sometimes require that you double the base word’s final consonant. How do you know when to double the consonant?

Consider the following examples, where doubled consonants are underlined.

  • shipment
  • shipped
  • muddy
  • fitful
  • fittest
  • waiting
  • greenest

Now take a look at some larger words, whose base forms have more than one syllable.

Spelling: Rules

At some point, many of us learned some handy spelling rules that we’ve carried with us for years.

Most people probably remember the mnemonic:

  • I before E except after C.

That’s a very useful rule for remembering how to spell believe and receive. But what about seize and seizure? And what about leisure, either, or heifer?

Spelling: Spelling and word structure

Many common spelling errors occur with double consonants or vowel combinations, as in the following words:

Spelling: Suffixes

Suffixes cause many of our common spelling mistakes. One challenge is simply to know which is correct: for example, legible or legable? In fact, −ible and −able serve the same function, and sound the same. As a matter of history, -ible entered English from Latin, while −able entered English from French, but there’s no easy rule for knowing when to use which suffix. Each word with each suffix just requires practice.

Spelling: Suffixes and 'e'

If an original word ends in a final e, as in manage,adding a suffix will sometimes require that you drop the final e in the root word.

  • Drop the final e: managing
  • Keep the final e: management

How do you know when to drop the final e?

First, consider the following examples, which either drop or keep the final e.

Spelling: Suffixes and 'y'

When a word ends in y, adding a suffix will sometimes require that we change the y to an i or to an ie. How do you know when to change the y?

Look through the examples below and the rules that follow.


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