This week you will learn about a prefix that is good to teach students once they already know several morphemes, a root that is best left for experienced students and a suffix that is one of the first morphemes you should teach.

Let’s stop to review a few of the key terms that are used in this post.

Morpheme – the smallest unit of meaning in a language

Prefix – a morpheme placed at the beginning of a root word; it affects the meaning of the root or base word

Root – a morpheme that is the basis of the word’s meaning and rarely can be used by itself

Free Base – a word or root that does not require another morpheme to be attached to it

Bound Base – a root that requires the addition of another morpheme to be considered a word; most roots are considered to be bound bases/roots

Suffix – a morpheme placed at the end of a word or root; it has the potential to change the word’s form (ie. noun-forming, verb-forming, adjective-forming or adverb-forming)

If you would like a more detailed description of these terms and more please refer to the Morphological Awareness post.

Origin: Latin

Definition: again, back, backward

Examples: recognize, reaction, retell, regress, return, remit

<re> + <mind> = remind
<re> + <tort> = retort
<re> + <bound> = rebound
<re> + <port> + <er> = reporter
<re> + <tract> + <able> = retractable
<re> + <play> = replay

  • When <re> is combined with a “free base” or a word that can stand alone, it typically means again
  • When <re> is combined with a “bound base” or a root that cannot stand alone, it typically means back
  • The prefix <re> is typically pronounced with a long vowel e sound at the end but in sometimes the vowel sound is short sound 
  • This prefix should be taught once individuals have a basic understanding about suffixes and are beginning to learn about prefixes.

Origin: Latin

Definition: sleep

Examples: dorm, dormitory, dormancy, dormer-window, dormition, dormeuse

<dorm> + <er> + <s> = dormers
<dorm> + <ant> = dormant
<dorm> + <in> = dormin
<dorm> + <i> + <tive> = dormitive

  • This root has a consistant pronunciation
  • This is traditionally considered to be a “bound root” but the word dormitory is often shortened to dorm
  • The root <dorm> is a more advanced root and should not be taught until the student has a solid foundation in the more frequent prefixes, bases and suffixes in the English language

Origin: Old English

Definition: action, past tense

Examples: milked, nailed, hoped, roamed, locked, shifted

<smile> + <ed> = smiled
<study> + <ed> = studied
<follow> + <ed> = followed
<scold> + <ed> = scolded
<grant> + <ed> = granted
<twist> + <ed> = twisted
<lock> + <ed> = locked
<jump> + <ed> = jumped
<hope> + <ed> = hoped

  • This is a common suffix and it should be one of the first morphemes taught to students
  • This suffix has three possible pronunciations /t/, /d/, and /ed/. The pronunciation will depend on the root word it is attached to.
  • Appropriate spelling rules associated with adding a suffix should be taught at the same time as this suffix
    • The 1 -1 – 1 Spelling Rule: When adding a suffix starting with a vowel onto a single syllable word that has one vowel making a short vowel sound and one consonant, double the final consonant before adding the suffix. ex: <slip> + <ed> = slipped, <stop> + <ed> = stopped; <hop> + <ed> = hopped
    • Drop the Silent e Rule: When the last syllable in a word has a silent e at the end (ex: smile, decide, slope) drop the ‘e’ before adding a suffix beginning with a vowel. ex: <smile> + <ed> = smiled; <decide> + <ed> = decided; <slope> + <ed> = sloped
    • Change the y to i Rule: When the word ends in the letter y, you must look to see what the letter before it is. If it is a vowel (ex: enjoy, stay), keep the y. If it is a consonant (ex: candy, carry), change the y to i and add <ed>. ex: <enjoy> + <ed> = enjoyed; <stay> + <ed> = stayed; <candy> + <ed> = candied; <carry> + <ed> = carried
    • Doubling Final Consonant of Two Syllable Words: In words where the final sylable is stressed (ex: commit, occur, refer), double the final consonant before adding the suffix <ing>. ex: <commit> + <ed> = committed; <occur> + <ed> = occurred; <refer> + <ed> = referred
    • Doubling the Final l: If the last sylable in a word contains a single letter l (ex: propel, cancel, fufil), then double the l before adding the suffix <ing>. ex: <propel> + <ed> = propelled; <cancel> + <ed> = cancelled; <fulfil> + <ed> = fulfilled
    • Remember to tell your students that almost all of these rules for adding suffixes have exeptions but it is fairly safe to follow them most of the time.
  • Remind students that not all words that are past tense end in the suffix <ed>. By the time most children who have English as their first language start school they have already internalized these words, but those who have English as an additional language may have to be taught these words. ex: buy -> bought; pay -> paid; know -> known; grow -> grown




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Last week , July 8, 2019, we focused on the prefix <pre>, the root <graph> and the suffix <ing>.

Next week, July 22, 2019, we will be focusing on the prefix <bi>/<bin>, the root <act>/<ag>, and the suffix <ly>.