Happy #morphememonday!

Morphemes are the smallest unit of meaning in a word.

Morphological Awareness refers to an understanding of these meaningful units in words.

Morphological awareness is a very important piece of the literacy pie and one that is often left out in both today’s teacher education programs and classrooms. 

Teaching students morphemes opens up a whole new way of understaning the English language. It provides them with extra tools they can use when they need to read and spell words with morphemes they know. It also can give them clues as to the meaning of words they are not familiar with. 

This week’s root is a perfect example of a morpheme that can be taught to students in the intermediate grades to help them hypothesize word meanings as they encounter new academic words.

Origin: Old English and Latin 

Definition: wrong, bad

Examples: misfortune, mismanage, miscalculate, misspelled, misdirection, misdemeaner

<mis> + <take> = mistake

<mis> + <treat> = mistreat

<mis> + <print> + <s> = misprints

<mis> + <under> + <stand> = misunderstand

  • The prefix <mis> has a consistent pronunciation of a short vowel /i/  sound.
  • This prefix is commonly used in everyday language and has a simple meaning that younger children can easily grasp. As such, it is one that can be taught to students fairly easily once they know a few other prefixes.

Origin: Greek

Definition: star, stars, outer space

Examples: asteroid, astrophysics, asterick, astrochemistry, disaster, astrologue

<astro> + <graph> = astrograph

<astro> + <photo> + <graph> = astrophotograph

<astro> + <ology> = astrology

<astro> + <the> + <ology> = astrotheology

  • The root <ast> is consistently pronunced with a short /a/ vowel sound. In it’s allomorph <astro>, they pronunciation is less consistent.
  • Depending on the resource you check, the root may be listed as <aster> instead of <ast>.
  • This root is one that can be taught in a science lesson when students are first taught about astronomy. This is a perfect time to use a structured word inquiry or a word matrix to discover different words that may be covered in the unit. 

Origin: Old English

Definition: state of

Examples: witness, roundness, hollowness, furiousness, madness, happiness

<alert> + <ness> = alertness

<new> + <ness> = newness

<polite> + <ness> = politeness

<light> + <ness> = lightness

  • This suffix has a consistent pronuciation with a short /e/ vowel sound
  • This suffix is noun forming.
  • This suffix is primarily used with Old English base words.
  • This suffix can be taught to students who have a basic understanding of suffixes.
  • When adding this suffix to a base word that ends in ‘y’, change the y to ‘i’ before adding the suffix.

Be sure to check out the more graphics for these morphemes on our Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and Twitter pages.


Last week, August 5, 2019, we focused on the prefix <un>, the root <aud> and the suffix <tion>.


Next week, August 18, 2019, we will be focusing on the prefix <inter>, the base <cent>, and the suffix <ish>.


If there is anything we can do or post to help you learn more about the importance of morphological awareness (or any other topic for that matter) please send an email to blog@garfortheducation.com


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