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Quiz: Word Formation

Prefixes, suffixes, conversion and compounds; a word is never just a word. Stretch your linguistic skills with this tricky word formation quiz.

Quiz: Word Formation
5 min

We add prefixes before the base or stem of a word.
- monorail, monolingual = mono- means ‘one’
- multipurpose, multicultural = multi- means ‘many’

We add suffixes after the base or stem of a word.
The main purpose of a suffix is to show what class of word it is (e.g. noun or adjective).
- environmentalism, capitalism = -ism and -dom are used to form nouns.
- employer, actor = -er and -or are used to form nouns to describe people who do things.
- widen, simplify = -en and -ify are used to form verbs.
- reasonable, unprofitable = -able is used to form adjectives.
- unhappily, naturally = -ly is a common suffix used to form adverbs.

Conversion involves the change of a word from one word class to another.
For example, the verbs to email and to microwave are formed from the nouns email and microwave.
- Can you text her? (verb from noun text, meaning to send a text-message)
- If you’re not careful, some downloads can damage your computer. (noun from verb download)

When we use compounding, we link together two or more bases to create a new word.
Normally, the first item identifies a key feature of the second word.
- Adjectives: heartbreaking, sugar-free, carsick
- Verbs: oven-bake, baby-sit, chain-smoke
- Adverbs: good-naturedly, nevertheless

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