Topic: Word structure

These resources cover the internal structure of words, including how words can be built up from smaller meaningful parts, and ways in which words can change their form in order to mark grammatical distinctions.

Identify the word formation process

Identify the word formation process by clicking the correct answer.

Y6 GPaS Test: Forms of 'be'

Select the correct form of be:

Y6 GPaS Test: Forms of 'be': Advanced

Select the correct form of be:

Y6 GPaS Test: Modal verbs, adverbs, and uncertainty

Read each of the following examples carefully. Which kind of word indicates uncertainty? An adverb or a modal verb?

Y6 GPaS Test: Present or past tense?

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the highlighted verb is in present or past tense:

Y6 GPaS Test: Select the pronouns

In each of the following examples, select the pair of pronouns that correctly fills the blanks:

Y6 GPaS Test: Select the verb form

Select the correct verb form for each example.

Y6 GPaS Test: Spelling plurals

Select the correct plural form:

Y6 GPaS Test: Word families

Select the correct word for the blank:

Letters and sounds

We often tend to think about English in terms of the written language, because of its importance in our society and in our education system. However, spoken language is really much more basic to us as human beings:

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.

Verbs: Tense

Tense is a grammatical notion that refers to the way in which a language encodes the real world notion of time. Typically this is done through endings on verbs called inflections. Verbs are the only word class that can carry tense inflections (though they don't always do so). Verbs that carry a tense ending are called finite verbs.

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: Compounds

Compounds are combinations of root words, i.e. words that can occur on their own, to form a new established combination. They are sometimes spelt as one word, but also with a hyphen or as two words.

In English compound nouns, e.g. bookcaselaptopsmartphone, and compound adjectives, e.g. dripping wettax-free, are very common.

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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