Word formation processes are basically how new words are created and
become part of the language.
are quite a few of them, and we will now make the most
important ones simple and clear.
Knowing this can actually help you better understand the English
language, not to mention the fact that knowing a word's origin is a
great way to reinforce your understanding of it!
Borrowed words are words that came to the English
language from another language.
It is a process where foreign
are gradually becoming part
of the language
In many cases, the foreign words adopt the sound and other
the language, and if used long enough, they can sound quite "native"!
it is given
||spago (small cord)
||beugen (to bend)
(Reference: The Heron Derivation Dictionary
a letter or group of letters that is added to the beginning or end of a
word and changes its meaning.
- healthy => un + healthy = unhealthy (un is the
- fear => fear + less = fearless
There are two kinds of affixes:
prefixes and suffixes.
When the letter or group of letters is added to the beginning
of a word,
we call it a prefix
When the letter or group of letters is added to the end
of a word, we
call it a suffix.
In English, many new words were formed from existing ones by adding
affixes to them.
Some even have several affixes added, such as:
care => careless
Some words were formed exactly the other way around. The affixes were
removed from existing words.
For example, the affix "or" was removed from the word "editor," and so
we got the verb "edit":
Click here for more info and prefixes and suffixes worksheets.
By "converting" we mean changing the function of a word
without changing its form.
For example, nouns that start to be used as verbs.
Examples of NOUNS that
turned into VERBS:
|Original word – noun
||New word – verb
|We had a
to talk for
buy me a drink?
||Don't drink that!
finally got a divorce.
they are divorcing.
|That dress was amazing.
the way she dresses.
you an e-mail.
||He e-mailed me several
In English many words are formed by joining parts of two or more
- bag + pipe = bagpipe
- smoke + fog = smog
- spoon + fork = spork
- motor + hotel = motel
Or, by combining full words, and not just their parts:
- foot + ball = football
- black + board = blackboard
- with + out = without
- be + have = behave
is the shortening of longer words.
In some cases the front is
removed, in some cases the back is removed, and in some other cases
- advertisement => advertisement
- examination => examination
- doctor => doctor = doc
- popular music
=> popular music
is a word made up from the first letters of the words that make up the
name of something.
(National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
(North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
(Radio Detection And Ranging)
Some words were simply invented.
Meaning, somebody creates the word, and people start using it.
This can be necessary when scientists invent or discover something new
exist before, when technology advances, or when a company comes up with
a new product.
In many cases science fiction an fantasy writers invent new
words, as well.
Word formation processes – final words
Understanding the different word formation processes helps us
thoroughly understand the creation of the English vocabulary.
But you can take it a step further. By taking individual words and
looking into their actual origin, you can achieve a more complete
understanding of them.
To learn more about building a wide vocabulary with the help of word origins, read the Basic Study Manual.