Morphology - an introduction: Activity 2

Activity 2: Same word or different words?

Would you say the following are different words or the same word?

  • hesitate, hesitates, hesitated, hesitating

It depends what we mean by ‘word’! In one everyday sense, they are all different words.

But in another, important sense they are all different forms of the same word, hesitate (which belongs to the word class of verb). In this sense what we mean by ‘word’ is a dictionary word (or lexeme) – an item of vocabulary.

What about the following items? Are they different words in the sense of vocabulary items?

  • organise, organiser, organisation, disorganise, disorganisation

These items are all related: they all contain the element organise (with some adjustments of spelling). But they are all considered different words in the sense that they add to our vocabulary.

Some of these words can appear in more than one form (e.g. organiserorganisers; organiseorganises, organised, organising).

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