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Overview: Word Formation | General Intelligence and Reasoning for SSC CGL PDF Download

Definition

The English language exhibits a distinct quality in its word creation and sentence structure. A common practice involves crafting new words by affixing a prefix, suffix, or combining with another word using an existing base word. This procedure, though common, can be intricate due to the various techniques used for word formation. 

Overview: Word Formation | General Intelligence and Reasoning for SSC CGL

Exploring the Types of Word Formation with Examples

Word formation is divided into four categories based on the method of formation. These are:

  • Prefix addition
  • Suffix addition
  • Word class conversion
  • Compound word formation

Let's delve into each type of word formation with detailed explanations.

Prefix Addition

A 'prefix' is a set of alphabets added to the beginning of a word, often to negate its meaning. Some commonly used prefixes include ‘un-’, ‘in-’, ‘dis-’, ‘im-’, ‘ir-’, etc. The examples below illustrate how prefixes are used to form new words.

Examples of Word Formation via Prefix Addition

  • Loyal – disloyal
  • Satisfied – unsatisfied
  • Order – disorder
  • Agree – disagree
  • Direct – indirect
  • Relevant – irrelevant
  • Honest – dishonest
  • Sane – insane
  • Regular – irregular
  • Appear – disappear

Suffix Addition

A 'suffix' is a short syllable added at the end of a base word. The addition of suffixes usually changes the word class of the specific word. The most common suffixes include ‘-ment’, ‘-ness’, ‘-ity’, ‘-ous’, ‘-tion’, ‘-sion’, ‘-al’, ‘-able’, ‘-ible’, ‘-ive’, ‘-ly’, ‘-ate’, ‘-er’, ‘-or’, etc. The examples below illustrate how suffixes are added to form new words.

Examples of Word Formation via Suffix Addition

  • Create (verb) – creation (noun) – creative (adjective)
  • Act (verb) – action (noun) – active (adjective)
  • Admire (verb) – admiration (noun) – admirable (adjective)
  • Attract (verb) – attraction (noun) – attractive (adjective)
  • Inspire (verb) – inspiration (noun) – inspiring (adjective)
  • Inform (verb) – information (noun) – informative (adjective)
  • Happy (adjective) – happiness (noun)
  • Justify (verb) – justification (noun)
  • Brave (adjective) – bravery (noun)
  • Quick (adjective) – quickly (adverb)

Word Class Conversion

The process of word class conversion involves changing the word class of the particular word. For instance, a noun can be used as a verb or an adjective can act like a noun with the addition of another word or slight alteration in the spelling of the actual word.

Examples of Word Formation via Conversion

  • The good should help the needy.

Here, adjectives ‘good’ and ‘needy’ are used as nouns by using them with the article ‘the’.

  • He texted me about the meeting.

The noun ‘text’ is used as a verb in the sentence by adding an ‘ed’ to the end of the word.

  • The financial aid had to be approved before we could make a decision.

The noun ‘finance’ is used as an adjective by adding ‘ial’ to the end of it and the verb ‘decide’ is used as a noun by removing ‘de’ and adding ‘sion’ to the word.

Compound Word Formation

Compound words are formed by combining one part of speech with another to form a specific word class. For instance, verbs can be combined with adjectives to form compound verbs, a noun can be combined with a present participle to form a compound noun, two nouns can be combined to form a compound noun, an adjective and a noun can be combined to form a compound noun, an adverb can be combined with a noun to form a compound noun, and so on. The examples below illustrate how compound words are formed.

Examples of Word Formation via Compounding

  • Over (adverb) + load (noun) – Overload
  • Black (adjective) + board (noun ) – Blackboard
  • Cup (noun) + board (noun) – Cupboard
  • Short (adjective) + hand (noun) – Shorthand
  • Swimming (present participle) + pool (noun) – Swimming pool
  • Break (verb) + Down (preposition) – Breakdown
  • Up (preposition) + town (noun) – Uptown
  • Copy (verb) + writer (noun) – Copywriter
  • Sun (noun) + rise (verb) – Sunrise
  • Flash (verb) + mob (noun) – Flash mob

Guidelines for Word Formation

Word formation can be intriguing, but it requires careful attention when adding inflections or affixes. Here are some essential pointers to bear in mind while forming words.

  • Consider the meaning you want the word to convey and its role in the sentence before altering the stem of the word.
  • The base word usually remains the same, except when prefixes are added, which append a syllable at the beginning.
  • Suffixes often require the removal of the last one or more alphabets of the word, though there are exceptions like 'movement' where the suffix is added without changing the base word.
  • Suffixes often indicate the word class: nouns often end in ‘er’, ‘or’, ‘ist’, ‘ian’, ‘ion’, ‘ment’, ‘ness’, and ‘ity’; verbs end in ‘ise’, ‘ate’ and ‘en’; adjectives end in ‘able’, ‘ible’, ‘ive’, ‘ic’, ‘ed’, ‘ing’ and ‘al’; adverbs typically end in ‘ly’.
  • Be cautious when forming words by conversion. Ensure that they are converted accurately and used correctly in sentences.
  • When forming compound words, ensure they are hyphenated if necessary, use the right combination of words, and avoid arbitrary mix-and-match.
  • Changing from one tense to another is also a type of word formation, as the word is inflected to indicate the twelve different tenses in the English language.
  • Forming degrees of comparison is another aspect of word formation. In this case, the comparative and superlative degrees are formed by adding ‘er’ and ‘est’ to the end of the adjective. For polysyllabic words, ‘more’ and ‘most’ are used along with the adjective.
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