Learning Vocabulary With Word Forms

How to Use Word Forms to Improve and Broaden Your English Vocabulary

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There are a wide variety of techniques used to learn vocabulary in English. This learning vocabulary technique focuses on using word forms as a way to broaden your English vocabulary. The great thing about word forms is that you can learn a number of words with just one basic definition. In other words, word forms relate to a specific meaning. Of course, not all of the definitions are the same. However, the definitions are often closely related.

Start off by quickly reviewing the eight parts of speech in English:



Not all eight parts of speech will have a form of each word. Sometimes, there are only noun and verb forms. Other times, a word will have related adjectives and adverbs. Here are some examples:

Noun: student
Verb: to study
Adjective: studious, studied, studying
Adverb: studiously

Some words will have more variations. Take the word care:

Noun: care, caregiver, caretaker, carefulness
Verb: to care
Adjective: careful, careless, carefree, careworn
Adverb: carefully, carelessly

Other words will be especially rich because of compounds. Compound words are words made up by taking two words and putting them together to create other words! Take a look at words derived from power:

Noun: power, brainpower, candlepower, firepower, horsepower, hydropower, powerboat, powerhouse, powerlessness, powerlifting, powerpc, powerpoint, superpower, willpower
Verb: to power, to empower, to overpower
Adjective: empowered, empowering, overpowered, overpowering, powerable, powered, powerful, powerless
Adverb: powerfully, powerlessly, overpoweringly

Not all words have so many compound word possibilities. However, there are some words that are used to construct numerous compound words. Here's a (very) short list to get you started:


Exercises for Using Your Words in Context

Exercise 1: Write a Paragraph

Once you've made a list of a few words, the next step will be to give yourself the opportunity to put the words you've studied into context. There are a number of ways to do this, but one exercise I especially like is to write an extended paragraph. Let's take a look at power again. Here's a paragraph I've written to help me practice and remember words created with power:

Writing a paragraph is a powerful way to help you remember words. Of course, it takes plenty of brainpower. However, by writing out such a paragraph you will empower yourself to use this words. For example, you might find creating a paragraph in powerpoint on a PowerPC takes a lot of willpower. In the end, you won't feel overpowered by all these words, you'll feel empowered. No longer will you stand there powerlessly when confronted with words such as candlepower, firepower, horsepower, hydropower, because you'll know that they are all different types of power used to power our overpowering society.

I'll be the first to admit that writing out a paragraph, or even trying to read such a paragraph from memory might seem crazy. It certainly isn't good writing style! However, by taking the time to try to fit as many words made up with a target word you'll be creating all sorts of related context to your word list. This exercise will help you imagine what type of uses can be found for all these related words. Best of all, the exercise will help you 'map' the words in your brain!

Exercise 2: Write Sentences

An easier exercise is to write out individual sentences for each word in your list. It's not as challenging, but it's certainly an effective way to practice the vocabulary you've taken the time to learn.

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Beare, Kenneth. "Learning Vocabulary With Word Forms." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/learning-vocabulary-with-word-forms-1211729. Beare, Kenneth. (2020, August 27). Learning Vocabulary With Word Forms. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/learning-vocabulary-with-word-forms-1211729 Beare, Kenneth. "Learning Vocabulary With Word Forms." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/learning-vocabulary-with-word-forms-1211729 (accessed March 20, 2023).