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Lesson 3.2b Analyzing Verbs and Adjectives

downloadable worksheet


Lesson 3.2a looks at how certain noun suffixes change the meanings of the words they attach to. You discovered, for example, that many nouns are built on either adjectives or verbs. This kind of word analysis reveals that we already know parts of speech since we use them to make words all the time. You never mess up and say, for example,




attaching the –ful suffix to an adjective like sad. Instead, what kinds of words does –ful attach to? Think of words that end in –ful, as in Lesson 3.1: wonderful, meaningful, careful. What’s the part of speech of wonder, meaning, and care?


There are also suffixes that when attached to a root word result in adjectives or verb.


Activity: Working in groups, come up with at least three words that have each of the following suffixes. Then determine the part of speech of the root (the word before the suffix attaches) and the resulting word.


Example:             -en            (as in sweeten)


                        shorten, blacken, fasten            Adjective + en = Verb


            -ify            (as in clarify)

            -ive           (as in active)

            -ize            (as in crystallize)

            -ful            (as in truthful)

            -able         (as in fixable)

            -al             (as in fictional)

            -ish           (as in childish)

            -er            (as in speaker)


[Teacher Notes: They should discover the following:


-en            attaches to verbs to make adjectives


(There’s another –en that attached to verbs to make the past participle form of the verb: eaten, forgotten.)


-ify            attaches to adjectives to make verbs

-ive           attaches to verbs to make adjectives

-ize           attaches to nouns to make verbs

-ful            attaches to nouns to make adjectives

-able         attaches to verbs to make adjectives

-al             attaches to nouns to make adjectives

-ish            attaches to nouns to make adjectives


It can be challenging for any students, but especially students of this age, to come up with these complex (multi-morpheme) words just out of the blue. You could have them work online with word search sites (“words ending in __”). They will still have to sort through the words that have suffixes and those that don’t. Other issues including the following: students may come up with examples that are not stand-alone words in English, but are bound roots; that is, they must attach to another affix like pensive, rectify. They might come up with examples of words with more than one suffix: constitutional. They may encounter spelling changes that can obscure the root word: cooperative. They might wonder why certain suffixes attach rather than others. Why, for example, are there these four suffixes which all attach to nouns to make adjectives: -ful, -able, -al, -ish? (And the answer to this is not straightforward. It has to do with phonological patterns, stress patterns, language of origin, among other factors.) They might not get the part of speech label right. Instead of giving it to them, have them use the word in a sentence to get some other clues about how it’s functioning. See some quick tests below.


Quick Tests for Adjectives: occur with seems, follow very.


Adjective Frame:            She seems _________.

                                       The [noun] is very ________.


Quick Tests for Nouns: can take a determiner, can be pluralized.


Noun Frame:              Can take a determiner: the _______

                                    Can be pluralized _____s


Quick Test for Verbs: can be tensed.


Verb Frame:            She ______ed yesterday.


key words: parts of speech, verb, adjective, morphology, syntax


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.1a Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences. 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.2e Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.4b Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known affix is added to a known word (e.g., agreeable/disagreeable, comfortable/uncomfortable, care/careless, heat/preheat). 


Here is this lesson as a pdf.

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