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What is Morphology?. The study of words and word parts The SMALLEST UNIT of MEANING or GRAMMATICAL FUNCTION in any language. Morphology. We have the ability to understand words we have never seen before based on their structure. EX: cartoonification. Morphemes.

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what is morphology

What is Morphology?

The study of words and word parts



We have the ability to understand words we have never seen before based on their structure.

EX: cartoonification

  • Just like syllables, words have different parts too.
  • For example, the word teacher has 2 parts – “teach” + “er”. The word students also has 2 parts – “student” + “s”.
  • These parts are called morphemes
how many morphemes are in the following words
How many morphemes are in the following words?
  • Untied
  • United
  • Nonsmoker
  • Preschooler
  • Reassessment
  • Purified
  • Functional
  • Ladder
  • Lovingness
  • Inconsiderate
morphemes cont
Morphemes, cont.
  • What does each additional morpheme do?
  • What does “-s” tell us? What about “-er”?

Each morpheme gives us grammatical information.

two kinds of morphemes
Two kinds of morphemes
  • Free morpheme – a morpheme that can stand alone.
  • Bound morpheme – a morpheme that must be attached to another morpheme.
bound morphemes
Bound morphemes

Bound morphemes HAVE TO be connected to a STEM; they cannot stand alone.

EX: mis-communicat-ion


Take a look at page 63-64 in your book.

  • Do you agree with the repeat example?
      • Does “-peat” carry any meaning?
      • Maybe we don’t know enough about the ETYMOLOGY of “-peat”
      • Look at page 66 under “Problems in Morphology”
kinds of free morphemes
Kinds of free morphemes

Free morphemes can occur in two types

  • Consider the words: tree, near, kind, think
  • Now, consider these: of, but, however, she, away

What is the difference?

lexical vs functional
Lexical vs. Functional
  • Lexical morphemes give us meaning and content (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, gerunds, etc.)
  • Functional morphemes have a job or function in a sentence (prepositions, conjunctions, transitions, etc.)
kinds of bound morphemes
Kinds of bound morphemes
  • There are also 2 kinds of bound morphemes.
  • Look at these bound morphemes: -able, re-, -ment, -ize, -less, anti-, -ish.
  • Now consider these: -s, -en/-ed, -ing, -er, -est.

Do you see a difference?

derivational vs inflectional
Derivational vs. Inflectional
  • Derivational morphemes change a words meaning by changing the word category (nouns become verbs, verbs become adverbs, etc.)
  • Inflectional morphemes change a words grammatical purpose. (words become plural, past tense, or can be used to compare)


Free Bound

Lexical Functional Derivational Inflectional



What were they?

What do you think ALLOMORPHS are?

allomorphs cont
Allomorphs, Cont.

“a” and “an” are allomorphs

The use of either “a” or “an” depends on the sound following it, but they still serve the same purpose.

allomorphs cont1
Allomorphs, Cont.

allomorphs for /-s/

[s] = cats

[z] = dogs

[Iz] = horses

allomorphs cont2
Allomorphs, Cont.

allomorphs for /-ed/

[t] = stopped

[d] = played

[Id] = counted

the morphophonemic rules
The Morphophonemic Rules
  • [-s] allomorphs
    • [-s] after voiceless sounds
    • [-z] after voiced sounds
    • [-iz] after sibilants ([ch], [dg], [z], [sh])
  • [-ed] allomorphs
    • [-t] after voiceless sounds
    • [-d] after voiced sounds
    • [-Id] or [-ed] after [t] or [d] sound; after alveolar stops
allomorphs cont3
Allomorphs, Cont.
  • The /-s/ and /-ed/ allomorphs are the trickiest for ELLs and also the most common.
  • Knowing those two will be enough for helping your students.

But why is it important to teach the different allomorphs?

So what…the kid pronounces the /-ed/ awkwardly. What difference does it make?


Any questions about morphemes?And now it’s time for…a YouTube Video!YIPEE!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT4-sxU7ewI