Word Formation | Form Five and Form Six Tanzania

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Word formation is the process by which new words are introduced into a language. We say a new word has been formed if: a new word class has been affected or a new meaning has resulted.


Morpheme is the smallest meaningful or grammatical unit. For example, in the word boots, there are two units: boot and s.


It is that part of word-form that remains when all inflectional and derivational affixes have been removed. A root is the basic part always present in a lexeme. In the form ‘untouchables’ the root is ‘touch’, to which first the suffix ‘-able’, then the prefix ‘un-‘ and finally the suffix ‘-s’ have been added. In a compound word like ‘wheelchair’ there are two roots, ‘wheel’ and ‘chair’.


A stem is the form of a word that inflections get added onto. For example: dogs, walked, walking, written etc.

Inflectional morphemes are the morphemes which are not used to form new words. For example, when add s in a word walk it will be walks but no change of meaning occur.

Derivational morphemes are the morphemes which used to form new words. For example: correction, kindness, careful, capitalism.

Process of forming words

Words are formed through different process as shown below:

1. Affixation

Affixation is the process of adding a morpheme or affix to a word to create either a different form of that word or a new word with a different meaning.
For example: good - goodness, short - shortness, stable - unstable.
Affixes are of two broad types namely: prefixes and suffixes.
Prefixes are the affix which attached to the front of the root.
Example of prefixes:
Un - unhappy, uncomfortable, undecided
In - inevitable, insincere
A - asexual, amoral
Dis - dispassionate, disobey
Ir - irregular, irrational
Il - illogical, illegal
Non - non - smoker, non - violent
Super - superprofit, superpower
Hyper - hypersensitive, hypercritical
I. Suffixes are the affix added at the end of root.
Example of suffixes
Class maintaining suffixes - this are suffixes which do not change word class.
Ship - relationship, kinship, friendship
Er - new Yorker, Londoner
Hood - brother hood, motherhood, priest hood, neighbourhood
Ess - tigress, waitress, actress, lioness
Dom - kingdom, chiefdom
Ery - machinery
Class changing suffixes
Adjective to noun suffixes
Ness - kindness, laziness, seriousness
Ity - ability, capability, activity
Ry - slavery, bravery
Noun to adjective suffixes
Ian - canadian, Tanzanian
Ese - chinese, Japanese
Ly - manly, friendly
Ish - childish, British
Like - childlike, sugarlike, fingerlike
Ous - dangerous
Ful - careful, beautiful
Y - sandy, muddy,smoky
Less - careless, useless, meaningless
Verb to noun suffixes
Er - worker, reader
Al - refusal, dismisal
Age - shortage, shrinkage
Ment - government, treatment
Ant - accountant, pollutant
Ee - employee, payee
Or - actor, investigator
Adverb suffixes
Ly - slowly, quickly
Wards - eastwards, onwards, homewards
Wise - clockwise, crabwise

2. Compounding

Compounding is the word formation process in which two or more lexemes combine into a single new word.
For example:
Bedroom, blackboard, call-girl, day-dream, phone call, dance hall…

3. Acronyms

Acronyms are words formed from initial.
For example:
CDA (Critical Discourse Analysis)
UNO (United Nations Organization)
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
NBC (National Bank of Commerce)

4. Coining

This is a word formation process by which totally new words are introduced into the language. This is normally when scientific discoveries are made.
For example:
Aspirin, nylon and Protex.

5. Clipping

This is the subs traction of one or more syllables from a word resulting into a new word. The removal of syllables may take place at the beginning, end of the word or both beginning and end of a word.
For example:
Bus (from omnibus)
Plane (from airplane or aeroplane)
Flu (from influenza)
Taxi (from taxicab)


This is a process of word formation by which parts of different words are joined to form new word.
For example:
Brunch - breakfast and lunch
Interpol - international police
Motel - motor hotel


This is a process by which new words are formed through repetition of same or almost the same sounds. Reduplication is different from compounding because it involves the same or almost the same sounds.
For example:
Hush - hush
Goody - goody
Poooh - poooh
Tick - tock
Ding - dong


This is the process of word formation by which one word is assigned to different word class without any morphological change.
A. They will increase our salaries
B. There will be an increase in our salaries
C. We must bottle the food if it is to be safe
D. The milk is in the bottle
in the examples above, the bold words serve both as nouns and verbs.


This is the process whereby words from different language are used in another language. For example: The word basi which in now a Kiswahili word comes from the English word bus.
The following are the English words borrowed from different languages:
Alcohol, zebra, safari, garage, piano, bazaar, magazine, calvary.

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