Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Doubling Your Vocabulary with Affixes (e.g., 'en')

English is loaded with prefixes and suffixes (=affixes), small particles that can be added to the beginnings or ends of words which change them from adjectives to verbs or nouns and which can change their meanings from positive to negative. If you learn how to control these affixes, you can dramatically increase your vocabulary. Wouldn't you like to do that?

One of the first affixes that I teach my students is 'en'; it can come at the end or at the beginning of a root word. Can you think of some common words that take the suffix 'en'? To start with, consider this string of common adjectives: wide, long, short, high, strong, soft, hard light, dark, bright, sharp, broad, and large. Can you turn them into verbs by adding 'en'?

wide - widen
long - (length = noun) lengthen
short - shorten
high - (height = noun) heighten
strong - (strength = noun) strengthen
soft - soften
hard - harden
light - lighten
dark - darken
bright- brighten
sharp - sharpen
broad - broaden
large - enlarge

See if you can come up with some other words using the prefix or suffix 'en.' Keep your eyes open for other patterns of word formation and add them to this list.

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