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English, French, and Math Support: Word forms

Marianopolis College provides students with support for improving their English and French language abilities, as well as support for improving their Math skills, all through professional support. All services are free.

Word forms

Using the correct form of a word is an essential part of communicating ideas correctly. The form depends upon the grammatical role the word plays in the sentence. Many words change their form by taking on affixes.

She lacks confidence. (noun) She confides in her brother. (verb)
She is not confident. (adjective) She shared her suspicion confidentially. (adverb)


NOTE: Some words do not change according to the role they play in the sentence.

The municipal government is responsible for providing potable water. (noun)

Municipal city workers also water the flowers planted on city property. (verb)

Choosing the correct form of a word improves the style as well as the clarity.

The president speaking to the crowd inspired them. (incorrect)

The president's speech inspired the audience. (correct)

The author shows that the image of the sunset is an imagery used to reveal death. (incorrect)

The author uses the imagery of the sunset to reveal death. (correct)

This tip sheet lists some common affixes for nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs.


Noun forms

Nouns are words that convey the names of people, places, things, and ideas. Many verbs and adjectives can be transformed into nouns by attaching suffixes. Some nouns can also become other nouns by adding suffixes. Some common noun suffixes include:

-er -ist -ian -ery -ship -hood
-ion -ence -ment -ness -ity  
Compute (v) > Computer Happy (adj) > Happiness Brew (v) > Brewery
Instruct (v) > Instruction Adult (n) > Adulthood Enjoy (v) > Enjoyment


Adjective forms

Adjectives are words that denote a quality or property of nouns. Some common adjective suffixes include:

-y -ous -al -ish -ic  -ile
-ent -ive -ful      
Dirt (n) > Dirty Victory (n) > Victorious Power (n) > Powerful
Act (v) > Active Style (n) > Stylish Enjoy (v) > Enjoyment


Verb forms

Verbs are world that convey actions or states of being. Nouns or adjectives can become verbs by adding prefixes or suffixes. Some common verb affixes are:

en- -en -ate -ify -ize
Large (adj) > Enlarge Fright (n) > Frighten Beauty (n) > Beautify
Fertile (adj) > Fetilize Regular (adj) > Regulate  


Adverb forms

Adverbs are words that usually describe a verb, adjective, or another adverb. They may also describe a relation of time, place, circumstance, or manner. There are many kinds of adverbs, but few suffixes are typically used to transform nouns, adjectives or verbs to adverbs:

-ly -ally -ably -ibly
Direct (Adj) > Directly Horrific (adj) > Horrifically Laugh(v) > Laughably

Word form exercise

The sentences below contain word form errors or word sequences that could be replaced with a more specific word. Read each sentence, and cross out the errors or awkward sequence. Re-write each sentence correctly. The first two sentences have been done as examples.

1. The author utilizes symbolic to represent misery in the short story.

The author utilizes symbolic to represent misery in the short story.

The author utilizes symbols to represent misery in the short story.


2. Putting innocent Jack in prison represents the judge’s lack of respect for fairness and law.

Putting innocent Jack in prison represents the judge’s lack of respect for fairness and law.

Imprisoning innocent Jack represents the judge’s lack of respect for fairness and law.


3. Clark emphasis the ways in which the characters lack confident.

4. People who farm are represented as less sophistication than people who make art.

5. Just as the wolf cub acquires strength physically more each day, so too does the protagonist obtain strength emotionally.

6. Like one removes a bandage quick, one should deliver bad news decisive and without hesitant.

7. Having consideration for all of these symbols, it is important to have recognition the common theme of sacrifice that pervades them.

8. Making the photo larger may make an increase of its clarity.

9. Giving information to the community about the murder makes everyone frightened.

10. The conflict between actively and passively is never resolved for the antagonist.

Word form tracking sheet

Use this chart to note the various forms of new vocabulary you encounter. Remember that not all word roots will have a form of each type.


Noun Adjective Verb Adverb
Resilience Resilient -- Resliently
Transformation Transformational Transform --


Word forms -- Printable format

If you would prefer to have the above information in a printable, PDF format, please click here:

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