New word of the month
Look at this group of words and decide what they have in common:
All the above words are formed from – and are related to – the adjective able. So we can call able the base word from which all the other words are developed. Can you guess which word is the base word for this next group?
All these words are formed from the base word destroy. We call these groups of related words word families. Like members of real families, the words that make up a word family share some of the same features: they all share some of the letters of the base word, and their meanings are related too.
Look at the following group of words and try to decide in each case what the base word is. Then try to guess the meaning of each word. Check in the dictionary to see if you are right.
Many English words are formed from combinations of other words, or from combinations of words and prefixes or suffixes. So if you know what each of the parts mean, you will also be able to guess the meaning of a new word.
A prefix is added to the beginning of a word to make another word. A prefix can be either a short word, or a group of letters that is not a word. An example of the first type is self-. Self- means yourself or itself, so if you are self-employed, you work for yourself, and if something self-destructs, it destroys itself. An example of the second type is non-, which means not. So a non-violent protest is a protest that does not involve violence.
A suffix is added to the end of a word to make another word. A suffix can be either a short word, or a group of letters that is not a word. An example of the first type is –rich, which is added to nouns to make adjectives for describing something that contains a lot of something. So oil-rich rocks are full of oil, and vitamin-rich foods contain a lot of vitamins. An example of the second type is –ish, which means slightly or rather. So greenish water looks slightly green.
Look at the words in bold in the following sentences and see if you can guess what they mean. After you have guessed, you can check the meanings in the dictionary. All the prefixes and suffixes used in these sentence (and shown here in red) have their own entries in the dictionary.
Local residents are calling for the police to crack down on antisocial behaviour by troublemakers, some of whom are as young as ten.
E-commerce now accounts for 84 per cent of the company’s sales.
The machines are very user-friendly and they tell you how hard you are working and how many calories you have used up.
The new district health boards will be required to act in an efficient and businesslike way.
Activity 3See if you can make some more words using these prefixes and suffixes. Check in the dictionary to see if your words are there.
In the next issue you can read about compounds and some other ways of forming words in English.