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Word Formation & Significance of Words In English Language With Examples

There are words often described by candidates to mean words that are exactly the same in meaning. When certain words we mention or use in isolation tend to be synonymous with one another, the difference stands out when these words are used in context.



For instance, smart, sharp and clever in isolation, appear to have the same meaning, but by the time they are used in sentence, the story will definitely change.

In this sentence:

The knife is sharp.

Neither smart nor clever can replace sharp as its synonym.

Synonyms can, therefore be described as words that are almost the same in meaning.

word formation in English Language

Examples of some words and their synonyms

WordsSynonyms
TerrifyFrighten, scare
FerociousCruel, ruthless
TerminateEnd
TerseCurt
TortureTorment
TurmoilConfusion
VacillateHesitate
TurbulentViolent, Disorderly
StupendousTremendous
VivaciousLively. Gay, cheerful
ColossalImmense, large, big
CoerceForce, compel
ObstacleImpediment, barrier, hindrance.
ExigencyNeed, Emergency
ExigentUrgent, Pressing
ExtravagantWasteful
AdamantUnyielding, Stubborn
InferenceDeduction, conclusion
InferConclude, deduce
InfiniteEndless, limitless
Goal (Noun)Jail, prison
ExecuteAccomplish, do or kill.

Sentence Example

His refusal to leave office after so many tears triggered (caused) the crisis.

The fear of famine is heightened (worsened) by rumours of war.

You need to scrutinize (examine) the facts before reaching a decision.

The authorities said the demonstration were organized by dissident (rebellious) activists.

There is an upsurge (increase) of violent crimes in this country.

The policewoman who saved the boy from being blown to pieces by the bomb was awarded a prize for gallantry (bravery).

The reply he gave to the question was ambiguous (Vague)

Her terse (curt) reply brought the conversation to an end.

His contribution to the development of the hospital remains unrivalled (unparalleled)

I went through his work, it was all gibberish (meaningless).

ANTONYMS

These are words and opposite

WordsAntonyms       
OptimistPessimist
ListenIgnore
CoerceCoax
HumilityPride, Arrogance
ExtinctionExistence
RatifyReject
PreserveDestroy
RuthlessHumane, kind
CommenceEnd
IndolenceHardworking, Industrious, diligent
HarmfulInnocuous
ExtolCondemn, Reprimand
LoquaciousTaciturn

Sentence Examples

The chairman vacillated in a matter that required decisive action.

The accused pleaded that the incident was accidental but the prosecution claimed that it was premeditated (deliberate).

The probationary workers do not have the same rights as confirmed staff.

Elders are expected to be experienced where youth are green (innocent).

Emeka is quite refined in his manners but his colleague is rather crude (uncultured).

Whenever we are considering weighty issues. Olu somehow introduce trivia matters.

The students were advised to resort to consultation with the authorities rather than confrontation whenever there were problems.

We had expected the secretary to sooth the feelings of the aggrieved members instead of making comments that could incense them.

The serenity of the village contrasts with the bustle of life.

Olu spoke in a disjointed manner while Oputa gave a coherent speech.

PREFIXES AND SUFFIXES

A prefix is a word element added to a base or root word at the beginning to give another word. Prefixes do not generally change or alter the word-class of the base or root word as suffixes do but they do change the meaning.

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Examples are:

Fair – base or root word

Un – a prefix

Unfair


Legal – base or root word

il – a prefix

Illegal.

Other examples and types of prefixes are:

Number Prefixes

PrefixMeaning of PrefixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
UNI, MONOOnelateral

logue

theism

Unilateral

Monologue

monotheism

BI-, DI-, DIA-,TwoLigual

Ennial, annual

Pole

logue

 

Bilingual

Biennial, biannual

Dipole

dialogue

TRI-,

MULTI-, POLY-

Three

Many

Partite

Angle

 

Racial

Lingual

Syllabic

Atomic

Gamy

Andry

technic

 

Tripartite

Triangle

Multiracial, multilingual, polysyllabic, polyatomic, polygamy, polyandry, polytechnic.

 Prefix of Time and Order

PrefixMeaning of PrefixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
POST –

 

 

 

EX –

After

 

 

 

Former

– War, classical

 

– Natal, – mortem

 

– Husband, – president

Post-war, post-classical

 

Post-natal, post-mortem.

 

Ex-husband. Ex-president

FORE

PRE –

before

before

-prefect

-tell, – knowledge,

war, marital

– natal

Ex-prefect

Foretell, foreknowledge

Prewar, premarital.

prenatal

RE-again-pack-build

-evaluate

-settlement

Re-pack, rebuild

Re-evaluate

Re-settlement

 Prefix of Location or Transfer

PrefixMeaning of PrefixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
SUB

 

Beneath, lesser in rank

 

– Way, conscious

– let, standard

Subway, subconscious

Sublet, substandard

SUPEROver, aboveStructure, natural

Human

Superstructure, supernatural, superhuman.
INTERBetween, amongMarry, nationalIntermarry, international.
TRANSAcross, from one place to anotherState, – action

Denominational

Port, Parent

Atlantic, plant

Interstate, interaction, interdominational, transport, transparent, transatlantic, transplant.

 Prefix of Degree

PrefixMeaning of PrefixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
OVERToo much, excessively

 

Eat, dressed

Confident, sleep, react.

Overheat, overdressed

Over-confident, oversleep, over react.

UNDEROver, aboveFund, size.

Estimate, study

Privileged.

Underfund, undersize, underestimate, understudy, underprivileged.
INFRABelow, lower thanHuman, digInfrahuman, infra-dig
MINILittleSkirt, hall, cab.Miniskirt, mini-hall, minicab
ULTRAExtremely, beyondViolet, modern

High, sonic

Marine, frequency

Ultraviolet, ultramodern, ultra-high, ultrasonic, ultramarine, ultra-frequency.
HYPERextremelyCritical, active, sensitive, market.Hypercritical, hyperactive, hypersensitive, hypermarket.
SUBLower than, less than.Human, standard, atomic, committee, continent, divideSubhuman, substandard, subatomic, subcommittee, subcontinent, subdivide.
SUROver and aboveCharged, taxSurcharged, surtax
ARCHHighest, worstDuke, bishop, angel, enemyArchduke, archbishop, archangel, archenemy.
OUTLonger, to do something fasterLive, runOutlive, Outrun

Prefix of Attitude

PrefixMeaning of PrefixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
CO,/COM-/CON-With, together, jointly.

 

Operate, bine, cur, pilot, author.Co-operate, combine, concur, co-pilot, co-author.
PROOn the side ofCommunist, governmentPro-communist, pro-government.

 

ANTI-againstMissile, social, clockwise, riotAntimissile, antisocial, anti clockwise,, antiriot
COUNTERIn oppositionAct, revolutionCounteract, conter-revolution

 Prefix of Degree

PrefixMeaning of PrefixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
IN-Not

 

Sane, adequate, accessible, efficientInsane, inadequate, inaccessible, inefficient.
UN-The opposite of, notKind, fair, assuming, expected, stable, developed.Unkind, unfair, unassuming, unexpected, unstable, undeveloped.
NON-NoneSmoker, commissionNonsmoker, non-commission
DIS-The opposite ofLoyal, like, favour, connect, honestDisloyal, dislike, disfavor, disconnect, dishonest.
A-Lacking inMoral, symmetryAmoral, asymmetry

 Pejorative Prefix

PrefixMeaning of PrefixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
MALBadlyTreat, function, formedMaltreat, malfunction, malformed
MISwronglyInform, conduct, leadingMisinform, misconduct, misleading.
PSEUDOFalse, imitation, not real.IntellectualPseudointellectual

 Other Prefixes are:

PrefixMeaning of PrefixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
PROTOOriginal, firstType, -martyr, indo-European.Prototype, proto martyr, proto-indo-European.
PAN-

VICE-

All, worldwide, deputyAfrican, Arabism

President, principal, captain.

Pan-African, Pan-Arabism.

Vice-president, Vice-principal, Vice-captain.

SEMI-HalfCircle, literate, weeklyHalf-circle, half-literate, halfweekly.
AUTO-self-matic, -biography, -changer, -graphAutomatic, autobiography, autochanger, autograph

Suffixes

A suffix is a word element added to a base or root word at the end to give another word. Unlike prefixes, suffixes frequently alter the word-class and word-function. Suffixes change words from noun to adjectives and adjectives to adverbs. For example. The adjective ‘sever’, by the addition of the suffix ‘-ity’, it is changed into a noun ‘severity’. The noun ‘editor’ by the addition of the suffix ‘-ial’, is changed to ‘editorial’.

Examples of suffixes and changes in word class and functions are:

Noun-Adjective Suffixes                                

SuffixMeaning of SuffixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
-LESSWithout

 

Child (noun)

Care (noun)

Childless (Adjective)

Careless (Adjective)

-LYHaving less qualities ofCoward (noun).Cowardly (Adjective)
-FULHaving…, giving…,Help (noun)Helpful (Adjective)
-LIKEHaving the qualities ofChild (noun)Childlike (Adjective)
-YLike…, covered with…Cream (noun)

Hair (noun)

Creamy (Adjective)

Hairy (Adjective)

-ISHBelonging to, having the character ofTurk (noun)

Fool (noun)

Turkish (Adjective)

Foolish (Adjective)

-ITY Person (noun)

Legal (noun)

Personality (Adjective)

Legality (Adjective)

IAL Editor (noun)Editorial (Adjective)

Adjective-Noun Suffixes                                

SuffixMeaning of SuffixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
-NESSState, quality

 

Happy (adjective)

Sad (adjective)

Clever (adjective)

Happiness (Noun)

Sadness (Noun)

Cleverness (Noun)

-ITYState, qualitySane  (adjective)

Senile  (adjective)

Electric  (adjective)

Sanity (Noun)

Senility (Noun)

Electricity (Noun)

Adverb Suffixes

SuffixMeaning of SuffixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
-LYIn a manner

 

Happy (adjective)

Strangely (adjective)

Wistful (adjective)

Happily (Adverb)

Strangely (Adverb)

Wistfully (Adverb)

-WISEIn the manner ofCrab (noun)

Clock (noun)

Crabwise (Adverb)

Clockwise (Adverb)

-WARD  (S)Manner, directionBack (adverb)

Fore (adverb)

Backward (Adverb)

Foreward (Adverb)

Adjective Suffixes

SuffixMeaning of SuffixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
-ABLEAble, worthy toRead (verb)Readable (adjective)
-IBLE Force (verb)Forcible (adjective)
-ISHsomewhatYoung (Adjective)

Fool (noun)

Youngish (adjective)

Foolish (adjective)

 

Verb-Noun Suffixes

SuffixMeaning of SuffixBase/Root WordNew Word Formed
-ALActionRefuse (verb)

Dismiss (verb)

Refusal (noun)

Dismissal (noun)

-ER, -ORInstrumental or agentiveDrive (verb)

Receive (verb)

Act (verb)

Edit (verb)

Driver (noun)

Receiver (noun)

Actor (noun)

Editor (noun)

-ANTAgentive and instrumentalInhabit (verb)

Disinfect (verb)

Inhabitant (noun)

Disinfectant (noun)

-MENTState, actionAmaze (verb)Amazement (noun)
-AGEActivity, result ofDrain (verb)Drainage (noun)
-ATIONState, action, institutionExplore (verb)

Organize (verb)

Exploration (noun)

Organization (noun)

HOMOPHONES AND HOMONYMNS

Homophones

Homophones are words that are similar in sound but differ in spelling and meaning.

Examples are:

Aloud – Allowed

Waist – Waste

Presents – Presence

Piece – Peace

Quiet – Quiet

Principal – Principle

Deer – Dear

Plain – Plane

Raise – Rays

Weather – Whether

Adapt – Adopt

Afflict – Inflict

Aural – Oral

Air – Heir

Amoral – Immoral

Artist – Artiste

Loose – Lose

Moral – Morale

Prescribe – Proscribe

Sew – Sow

Creek – Creak

Homonyms

Homonyms are words which have the same spelling and punctuation but different meaning.

Examples are:

Flight – a journey in space

Flight – a group of steps along a staircase.


Plain – a flat open space in the field

Plain – to become clear and obvious


Faint – to lose consciousness

Faint – not clear or sharp


Box – a cubical container made of wood or metal

The use of clenched fist to punch someone


Ball – a round rubber or leather object

Ball – a typical European formal dance party


Word formation in English language is very common in WAEC, NECO, JAMB as well as other exams that requires test of English proficiency. To be sure you understand word formation in English language which includes prefixes, suffixes, synonyms, antonyms, homophones and homonyms and so on, you are advised to attempt some practice questions on the subject matter for you to personally test your level of understanding.



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