Morphological Analysis


Morphological Analysis

Lim Kay Yie

Kong Moon Moon

Rosaida bt ibrahim

Nor hayati bt jamaludin



Morphology is the study of the structure and formation of words.

Its most important unit is the morpheme , which is defined as the "minimal unit of meaning".

(Linguistics textbooks usually define it slightly differently as "the minimal unit of grammatical analysis".)

Consider a word like: " unhappiness ". This has three parts:

There are three morphemes, each carrying a certain amount of meaning. un means "not", while ness means "being in a state or condition". Happy is a free morpheme because it can appear on its own (as a "word" in its own right).


•A stem is a base morpheme to which another morphological piece is attached.

•It can be simple, made up of only one part, or complex, itself made up of more than one piece.


Word reconsideration. We can break it into three morphemes: re, consider , and ation .

Consider is called the stem.


•A root is like a stem in constituting the core of the word to which other pieces attach, but the term refers only to morphologically simple units.


Disagree is the stem of disagreement, because it is the base to which

-ment attaches, but agree is the root. Taking disagree now, agree is both the stem to which disattaches and the root of the entire word.


• An additional element placed at the beginning or end of a root, stem, or word, or in the body of a word, to modify its meaning.



 reand ation are both affixes


• A letter or group of letters attached to the beginning of a word that partly indicates its meaning.

•Common prefixes include anti (against), co(with), mis(wrong, bad).

Example: dis= apart, away , dis appears .”


• A letter or group of letters attached to the end of a word that partly indicates its meaning.

Example: -ful = have , beauti ful

Bound morphemes have to be attached to a free morpheme, and so cannot be words in their own right. Thus you can't have sentences in English such as

"Jason feels very un ness today".

 Morphological processes

1. Inflection

•Process of changing the form of a word so that it expresses information such as number, person, case, gender, tense, mood and aspect, but the syntactic category of the word remains unchanged.

• As an example, the plural form of the noun in English is usually formed from the singular form by adding an s .

car / car s table / table s dog / dog s

• Other examples of Inflection:

By adding a) ’s (possessive) b) -ing c) -er d) -est

(verb suffix meaning “in process” : is reading)

(comparative: smarter)

(superlatve suffix: smartest) e) -ed (past tense or irregular variants, as in bought and ate) f) “perfect” suffix on verbs ( -en, as in he has taken the cake.)

2. Derivation

- Derivation does change the category. Linguists classify derivation in English according to whether or not it induces a change of pronunciation.

- For instance, adding the suffix ity changes the pronunciation of the root of active so the stress is on the second syllable: activity.

-The addition of the suffix al to approve doesn't change the pronunciation of the root: approval.

Derivational Affixes

 In Nouns

- age (appendage)

- al (arrival)

- ance (acceptance)

-ness (kindness)

-tion (absorption)

-ism (socialism)





 In Verbs









- ity (personality)

- let (outlet)

-ment (government)

-ful (handful)

-ship (friendship)

-ist (socialist)





-re unde-




Derivational Affixes

 In Adjectives

-able (readable)

-al (accidental) anti-




















-ous (porous)

-semi (semilogical)

-super (supermarket)

-trans (trans-Siberian)

-ultra (ultrasensitive)

 In Adverbs

-ly (slowly) -wise (timewise)

 In Members of More Than One World Class



(American [noun and adjective])

(friendly [adjective], eagerly [adverb]) post(postscript [noun], postdate [verb]) pre(preview [noun and verb])




Always follow any derivational suffixes.

Eg: authorizing

{author} + {-ize} + {-ing}

Always precede any inflectional suffixes.

Eg: statements

{state} + {ment} + {s}




Never change part of speech of base.

Eg: boy (noun singular) boys (noun plural)

Often change part of speech of base.

Eg: boy (noun)

Boyish (adjective)




Combine with almost all members of single part of speech.

Eg: human>humans pencil>pencils

Usually can combine with only a few subgroups of bases belonging to one or two parts of speech.

Eg: human> humanize






-Has grammatical meaning.


{-s} > humans

Creates plural of a word that retains its original meaning.


Has some lexical meaning.


{-ize} > humanize

Creates verbs meaning “to cause to become”

Analysing morphemes

You can do this in 3 ways :-

1. By dividing it up with hyphens e.g. truth-ful-ness

2. By using a tree diagram OR hierarchical structure



N truth - ful - ness

Dividing with hyphens

Divide into base form + morphemes truth = one morpheme truthful = base form + bound morpheme

(truth ful) truthfulness = base form + bound + bound


Constructing tree diagrams (1) i.

Divide the word into its constuent morphemes e.g. greed-i-ness ii.

Decide the root and its grammatical category : greed = noun (N) iii. Decide the grammatical category of all the new words created by the other morphemes greedy = adjective (A) greediness = noun (N)

Constructing tree diagrams (2) i.

Write the divided word at the bottom of the page greed-i-ness ii.

Write the grammatical category of the root and join it to the word:

N greed iii. Write the grammatical category of all the new words created by the other morphemes

A and join them up

N greed-i greed-i-ness

Now write the word and connect up all the categories.

Can you label the boxes?


Greed >

Greedy >



Ingo Plag. (2003). Word-Formation in English.

Cambridge University Press.

Jeffrey P. Kaplan. (1989). English Grammar

Principles and Facts. Prentice- Hall International

Michael Newby. (1987). The Structure of English.

Cambridge University Press.

Thomas P. Klammer. (1992). Analyzing English

Grammar. Allyn and Bacon.