Today is Monday July 8th and it’s the first ever #MorphemeMonday! You may be wondering what exactly #MorphemeMonday is: it is simply a day to bring awareness about the importance of morpheme instruction to parents and educators out there.


Technically speaking, morphemes are the smallest units of meaning in a language and an understanding of these units is called morphological awareness. In layman’s terms, they are parts of words that hold meaning. In some instances they can stand alone, but in most cases they have to be attached to a base word.

I like to think of a morpheme as a transformer, you start out with a car (the base word) and add a morpheme (a prefix or suffix) and the word changes into something else.  A prefix goes at the beginning of a base word to change its meaning.

A root is the base of the word. If the root can stand alone it is considered a free root, otherwise it is considered a bound root; for example ‘dict’.

A suffix is added to the end of a word to change its form (i.e. noun-forming, verb-forming, adjective-forming or adverb-forming). Think of the transformers analogy, with the addition of the suffix ‘ly’ it can change a noun like man into an adverb like manly.

<man> + <ly> = manly

noun + <ly> = adverb

Each Monday, you will learn about three different morphemes, a prefix, a root and a suffix. In the description of each you will learn where it came from if there are different spellings of the morpheme (formally called an allomorph), and some examples of words using the morpheme. Sometimes there will be examples of word webs, word matrices and or word sums using the morpheme. Hopefully, with the information provided in the post, you will have enough information to teach your favourite student(s) about the prefix, root and suffix of the week.

Origin: Latin

Definition: before, earlier or in front of

Examples: preorder, preamble, prevent, pretext, prehistoric, precede

<pre> + <order> = preorder

<pre> + <amble> = preamble

<pre> + <vent> = prevent

<pre> + <text> = pretext

<pre> + <history> + <ic> = prehistoric

<pre> + <cede> = precede

  • This prefix can be taught in the intermediate grade when students are starting to see it appear more frequently in their vocabulary and subject matter
  • Once students understand this prefix, it will help their understanding of when things occurred
  • This prefix’s pronunciation is fairly consistent, most commonly the e has a long vowel sound (ex. prepay) but sometimes it has a short e sound(ex. prejudice)
  • When the prefix ‘pre’ is used before a proper noun, a hyphen is used (ex. pre-Christian)

Origin: Greek

Definition: write, record, draw

Examples: photograph, autograph, epigraph, telegraph, lithograph, graphite

<photo> + <graph>  = photograph

<auto> + <graph> = autograph

<epi> + <graph> = epigraph

<tele> + <graph> = telegraph

<litho> + <graph> = lithograph

<graph> + <ite> = graphite

  • Some sources believe the root ‘gram’ to be an allomorph of ‘graph’ while others consider it distinct
  • This root is a more advanced root and should not be taught until students have more of a solid foundation of other morphemes so they can use them in a word matrix with this root
  • When teaching this root, point out to students its etymology (origins), because it is a Greek root the <ph> is used for the /f/ sound

*Additional graphics for the root <graph> can be seen in our post about Morphological Awareness

Origin: Old English

Definition: action

Examples: running, skating, talking, deciding, growing, stopping

<run> + <ing> = running

<skate> + <ing> = skating

<talk> + <ing> = talking

<decide> + <ing> = deciding

<grow> + <ing> = growing

<stop> + <ing> = stopping

  • This suffix should be one of the first morphemes taught to students
  • 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: <get> + <ing> = getting
    • Drop the Silent e Rule: When the last syllable in a word has a silent e at the end (ex: take, care, decide) drop the ‘e’ before adding a suffix beginning with a vowel. ex: <take> + <ing> = taking; <decide> + <ing> = deciding
    • Change the ie to y Rule: When adding the siffix <ing> to a word ending in ie (ex: lie, tie, die) change the ie to y before adding <ing>. ex <lie> + <ing> = lying; <tie> + <ing> = tying; <die> + <ing> = dying
    • 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> + <ing> = propelling; <cancel> + <ing> = cancelling; <fulfil> + <ing> = fulfilling
    • Doubling Final Consonat of Two Syllable Words: In words where the final sylable is stressed (ex: begin, occur, refer), double the final consonant before adding the suffix <ing>. ex: <begin> + <ing> = beginning; <occur> + <ing> = occuring; <refer> + <ing> = referring
    • Remember to tell you students that almost all of these rules for adding suffixes have exeptions but it is fairly safe to follow them most of the time.
  • Addition of the suffix <ing> can change the base word’s form to a verb (gerund), a noun or an adjective
  • This pronunciation of this suffix is fairly consistent, however, some individuals will drop the final consonant sound /g/ so it sounds more like ‘in’


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

If there is anything I 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

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Next week, July 15, 2019, we will be focusing on the prefix <re>, the root <dorm>, and the suffix <ed>