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English Morphology and Syntax.

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  1. Breakdown the following words into morphemes and classify each one.
  1. breakdown

-        It consists of two morphemes – break  +  down

-        Break is a verb .

-        Down is an adverb/ preposition / verb/ adjective as well as a noun.

-        Breakdown (of a machine or vehicle) means to stop working because of a fault.

  1. cheese

-        It consists of one morpheme.  The word “cheese” exists as it is.  It is a noun.  

-        It is a type of food made from milk that can be either soft or hard and is usually white or yellow in colour.

  1. unbeknown
  • The word “unbeknown” consists of three morphemes.
  • Un is a prefix meaning not or negative.

-           be is also a prefix.

-        known is a verb.   ‘n’ is a suffix.  When ‘know’ is added with ‘n’,

it  becomes known which is the past pasticiple of the word ‘know’.

  • unbeknown is an adjective (to sb) without the person

mentioned knowing.

  1. fraction

It consists of one morpheme.

It is a noun

...read more.



3     What analysis applies to the word  disappearance,

unfaithfully,flower, footballer and record-player?  Explain your answers in detail.

  1. disappearance

-        ‘appear’ is a verb

-        when appear  is add  in with  the prefix ‘dis’ , it is an -adjective which means no more exist.

-        When it adds in the suffix ‘ance’ , it also becomes an adjective.  It means the looking.

  1. unfaithfully

-        ‘ faithful’ is an adjective.

-        ‘un’ is the prefix.  When it is added to it –unfaithful – it means not faithful.

-        When the suffix ‘ly’ is added to it, - unfaithfully – it becomes an adverb.  It means not faithfull to somebody.

  1. flower

-        The word “flower” exists as it is.

  1. footballer

-        Both ‘foot’ and ‘ball’ are nouns.  When the word “footballer’ is formed, the foot here becomes the adjective form and it tells us what kind of ball it is.

  1. record-player
  • It is a compound word formed from 2 nouns:  ‘record’  +  ‘player’. When record-player is formed, the word record remains a noun.  It has no change in the part of speech.  It is a player that plays the record.  
...read more.



(i)        {er}  in the group of words mower, teacher, sailor, farmer, caller, operator,

        is used to form nouns from  verbs

(ii)        {er}  in the group of words  taller,  shorter,  greener, higher, lower, sweeter, smarter,  represent the comparison form of adjective.

  • We may classify them by using table  :-
















( iii )        {er} , {or}  in never, cover, finger, either, river, candor, other, valor,

        exist as they are.

Therefore, it is obvious that the items spelled  {er}  /  {or}   is  not the same item in all of the words, in all three lists.   Thus,  we cannot generalise  {er} form as the comparative form of adjective  and {or}  is used to form nouns from verbs.



1.        Sharmeen Rafik Khan(2002), Universiti Putra Malaysia Module

English Morphology and Syntax

2.        Noel  Burton – Roberts (1997) 2nd Edition,

Analysing Sentences- An Introduction to English Syntax,

Harlow Addison Wesley – Longman

3.        N. Chandra and Sudha Datta (1997), An approach to Learner’s Grammar,

New Delhi-11002(India) Anmol Publication PVT.LTD.

4.        Victoria Fromkin and Robert Rodman, An introduction to Language,

Harcourt Brace Jovannovich College Publishers.


...read more.

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