Tackle word formation exercises in three steps

Tackle word formation exercises in three steps

Although word-formation seems like magic at first, worry not! Today you will learn how to tackle this part of the exam. Firstly, you will need to understand what are the prefixes, root words and suffixes. Prefixes go before the stem of a word to form a new word.

Suffixes go after the stem of a word and also make a new word this way. The stem is the core meaning of the word (for example FORGETFUL has FORGET in a root/stem). You will need to know both prefixes and suffixes to complete word-formation exercises. The lesson on that is coming up soon, so stay in touch!

In your exam you will come across activity like this one:
Fill in the blanks with a suitable word formed from the root word (in the brackets):

Jim is very busy at the moment, and he is ________to take this call. (able).


Before you panic, read the sentence twice and ask yourself: “well, well, what will go here?” Then you need to decide if you need to fill the blank with an adjective, noun, verb etc.


Now you can pull out your knowledge of prefixes and suffixes and BOOM; you scored another point.

In the given exercise, you can see that we are looking for something to go after “HE IS…”. You have the root word “able” to help you. Can you make Present Continuous here and say “He is abling to”? NO!!! It wouldn’t make sense. So you probably know that we need to use some adjective.

You can make disable, unable, ability, enable form this root word.

To disable is a verb, unable is an adjective, the ability is a noun, to enable is a verb also. The adjective UNABLE will be the correct answer.


When you decide on the answer, read the completed sentence one more time and check if it makes sense.

With time and little practice, you will become a real word-formation pro. Good luck!