English Grammar: Morphology

 By Pacific Lava
1. Overview
Morphology is about words: their relationships and constituent parts. The more knowledge of morphology you learn, the stronger vocabulary skill you build.

In English or any other languages words are the base of expression, wrong word or word used wrongly is the main cause of language issue.

For example, following sentences are wrong because of mistaking word:
  • I am very boring with this game.
  • The flowers are very attracting to some insects.
  • His culture is difference from yours.
  • His grades proof that he is a hard worker.
Actually, all words are right in spelling, but used in wrong way. So we believe vocabulary skill is not only how large or size your vocabulary is, but how deep or wide your understanding of each word.

The section is to help anyone involved in developing the vocabularies of native and non-native English speakers

2. English Morpheme
For generic language users, words are the basic units to express ideas. In primary grammar, words are also the basic units of analysis. We classify words according to their parts of speech to study their attributes and use cases.

However, words are composed of even more basic units, which are called morphemes. A morpheme is the smallest part that has grammatical function or meaning.

For example, considering 3 words: sawed, sawing, and saws, we may divide them into the morphemes {saw} + {-ed}, {-ing}, and {-s}, respectively.

We cannot divide morpheme any more. Sometimes morpheme itself can occur alone as a word, like {saw}. If a morpheme does not have to be attached to another morpheme, it is called free morpheme. Morphemes that must be attached as word parts are said to be bound.

Free morpheme is the core to consist of English vocabulary, meanwhile common bound morphemes play active roles to construct English words endlessly.

3. Word Composition
Now that we know English word is composed of morphemes, it's easy to reason that huge number of words are originated from combining or transferring morphemes as similar as some new compound words are from combining or transferring existing words, such as website from web + site.

In general, we may summarize 7 ways to construct English words:

1 Conversion: Basically the word keeps as same form, but the part of speech is changed.

For example:
  • record (n. a thing constituting a piece of evidence about the past)
  • record (v. set down in writing or some other permanent form)

2 Derivation: Prefix or suffix a word word by morpheme or word to create a new word.

For example:
  • agree / disagree
  • happy / happiness

3 Compounding: Form a new word by 2 or more words or morphemes.

For example:
  • wood + cut / woodcut
  • bath + house / bathhouse

4 Clipping: Remove part of word to get a new word, usually keep the same meaning as original one.

For example:
  • bicycle / cycle
  • advertisement / ad

5 Blending: Get some parts from 2 or more words to create a new word.

For example:
  • Europe + Asia / Euraisa
  • British + exit / Brexit

6 Abbreviation Connection first letters of multiple words.

For example:
  • British Broadcasting Corporation / BBC
  • United States of America / USA

7 Backformation: Remove affix from a word to create a new word. (Since many English words are borrowed from Latin, French and Greek, giving English a large range of common affixes.)

For example:
  • editor / edit
  • adsorption / adsorb
4. Build Strong Vocabulary by Morphology
Study and understanding morphology is an efficient way to quickly enhance vocabulary skill. At this section we offer extended materials for popular word and morpheme topics to help students expand vocabulary larger and deeper through solid grammar theory and cutting-edge Internet technology.