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Topic 10B – The lexicon. Characteristics of word-formation in english. Prefixation, suffixation, composition


1.- Word-formation.

2.- Prefixation.

2.1.- Definition.

2.2.- Characteristics.

2.3.- Groups of prefixes.

2.3.1.- Negative prefixes.

2.3.2.- Reversative or privative prefixes.

2.3.3.- Pejorative prefixes.

2.3.4.- Prefixes of degree or size.

2.3.5.- Prefixes of attitude.

2.3.6.- Locative prefixes.

2.3.7.- Prefixes of time and order.

2.3.8.- Number prefixes.

2.3.9.- Conversion prefixes.

2.3.10.- Other prefixes.

3.- Suffixation.

3.1.- Definition.

3.2.- Characteristics.

3.3.- Classification.

3.3.1.- Noun suffixes.

3.3.2.- Verb suffixes.

3.3.3.- Adjective suffixes.

3.3.4.- Adverb suffixes.

4.- Compound words.

4.1.- Definition.

4.2.- Characteristics.

4.3.- Classification.

4.3.1.- Kinds of composition in the noun.

4.3.2.- Kinds of composition in the verb.

4.3.3.- Adjective compounds.

4.3.4.- Reduplicatives or repetition compounds.


A form to which a rule of word-formation is applied is called a base (as distinct from stem which is the part of the word remaining after every affix has been removed). For example in:

Base Stem
“friendly” with only one affix friend friend

“unfriendly” with two affixes friendly friend

in the first example “friend” is both the base and the stem, but in the second one “friendly” is not the stem of “unfriendly”.

The chief processes of English word-formation by which the base may be modified are:

a) Affixation – adding a prefix to the base, with or without a change of word-class: “author” “co-author” (no change).

– adding a suffix to the base, with or without a change of word-class: “drive” (verb), “driver” (noun).

b) Conversion – assigning the base to a different word-class without changing its form, that is to say zero affixation:

“drive” (verb), “drive” (noun).

c) Compounding – adding one base to another: tea + pot = teapot.

Once a base has undergone a rule of word-formation, the derived word itself may become the base for another derivation; and so, by reapplication, it is possible to derive words of considerable morphological and semantic complexity.

A moderately complex example is the word “unfriendliness”, the derivation of which is as follows:

friend noun
friend-ly noun — adjective
un-friend-ly adjective — adjective
un-friend-li-ness adjective — noun

There are possibilities for mixing processes of derivation in the same word: for instance, compounding and affixation are both found in “colour-blindness”, a word derived from the compound adjective “colour-blind” by the same rule which derives “happiness” from “happy”.


2.1. Definition

Marchand says that prefixes are such particles as can be prefixed to full words but which are not words with an independent existence. Most prefixes in English are of foreign origin. The huge number of loan words which poured in after the Norman conquest upset the native system for word-formation, giving rise to prefixes and suffixes which could be analysed independently.

The Romanization of the English vocabulary, which came about through the continuous contact during the Renaissance. In the 19th century there are a lot of scientific words of Latin origin too.

2.2. Characteristics

Native prefixes -a, be-, fore-, un-, mid-, mis- developed in some cases as independent words. They were partly replaced by phrasal verbs

Prefixes have a status which is semi-independent, shown by the

following points:

a) Prefixes do not fuse syllabically with their base:

Prefix Not prefix

rebuild /ri:bild/ repeat /ripi:t/

b) Phonetically, the prefixes do not vary:

subway /s^b/ subconscious /s ^b/

c) All prefixes have some stress,

amoral bedimmedrefill bewigged (rather affected)

Prefixes do not generally alter the word-class of the base.

Productive prefixes normally have a light stress on their first (or only) syllable, the main stress of the word coming on the base:

pre ‘fabricated

2.3. Groups of prefixes

2.3.1. Negative prefixes

Prefixes Meaning Added to: Examples

UN- “not” -adjectives -unfair

“the opposite of’ “ed/”ing” -unassuming

participles unexpected

-adverbs -unusually

NON- “not” -adjectives -non-conformist

-nouns of action -non-aggression

-verb-stem -non-stop

IN- (same as for un-) -adjectives -insane




DIS- (same as for un-) -adjectives -disloyal

-verbs -dislike

-abstract nouns -disfavour

A(N)- “lacking in”

“lack of’ -adjectives -amoral

-nouns -asymmetry


• UN- is the commonest negative prefix and it is used with native English words.

• NON- can be regarded as derivable from clause-negation: “non-smoker” (one who does not smoke).

• IN- becomes IL- before l, IR- before r and IM- before labials.

2.3.2. Reversative or privative prefixes



Added to.




to reverse action


-untie, undo


“to deprive of’




to reverse action




“to remove”, “to undo”

-abstract nouns



“to get rid of’



(same as for un-)









2.3.3. Pejorative prefixes

Prefixes Meaning Added to: Examples

MIS- “wrongly” -verbs -misinform

“badly- abstract nouns -misconduct

“astray- participles -misleading

MAL- “bad” -abstract nouns -maladministration

PSEUDO-” “false” -nouns -pseudo-classicism

“imitation” -adjectives -pseudo­-intellectual(n)


• MIS- is normally unstressed if next is stressed.

• MAL- the second element is always a word of non Germanic origin.

2.3.4. Prefixes of degree or size

Prefixes Meaning Added to: Examples

ARCH- “highest’ ”worst”, -nouns (mainly -archduke
“supreme” human) -arch-enemy
SUPER- “above”, “better”, -nouns -superman
“more than” (in adj. -supermarket
“beyond”) -adjectives -supernatural
OUT- “to do something -verbs (mainly -outrun
better”, “faster”, intransitive) -outlive
“longer”… than -outgrow
SUR- “over”, “above” -nouns -surtax
SUB- “lower than”, “less -adjectives -subhuman
than” -adjectives -substandard
OVER- “too much” -verbs -overeat
-ed-participles -overdressed
-adjectives -overconfident
UNDER- “too little” -verbs -undercook
-ed-participles -underprivileged
HYPER- “extremely” -adjectives -hypercritical
“extra specially”
ULTRA- “extremely”, -adjectives -ultra-violet
“excessively’ -ultra-modern
MINI- “little” -nouns -mini-skirt
MAXI- “large”, “long”


• ARCH- is used with favourable or unfavourable meaning though the new formations in ARCH- are pejorative.

• SUPER- Nouns usually have initial main stress.

• OUT- It is a very productive prefix.

• SUR- It is rare and in most cases its distinctive meaning has disappeared: “surname”, “survey”.

• ULTRA- From these adjectives nouns may be derived: “ultra-modernism”, “ultra-conservatism”.

• MINI- It is a recent prefix, often used in humorous coinages.

2.3.5. Prefixes of attitude

Prefixes Meaning Added to: Example

CO- “with,” “joint”,” -verbs -cooperate

accompanying” -nouns -co-pilot


COUNTER- “in opposition to” -verbs -counteract

“against” -abstract nouns -counter-revolution

ANTI- “against” -nouns -antichrist

“enemy of’, “rival” -adjectives -anti-social

-adverbs -anti-clockwise

-verbs (rare) -anti-freeze

PRO- “on the side of’, “for” -nouns -pro-revolution

“opposite of -anti” -adjectives -pro-communist

• COUNTER- The nouns are usually stressed on the first element, the verbs on the second. Some nouns have compound stress: “‘counter­action”.

• ANTI- suggests simply a state of mind, an attitude of opposition, while counter- suggests action in opposition, an activity. A “counter-attack” can take place only if there has already been an attack.

2.3.6. Locative prefixes

Prefixes Meaning Added to: Examples

SUPER­­ “over” “above” -nouns -superstructure

SUB “beneath”, “under -nouns -subway

“lesser in rank -adjectives -subconscious

-verbs -sublet

INTER- “between”, -denominal object -international

“among” -verbs -intermarry
-nouns -interaction
-attributive nouns -interwar (period)
TRANS- “from one place to -denominal -transatlantic
another”, “across” adjectives
-verbs -transplant


• SUPER- It is uncommon except in borrowed or neo-Latin words:


• SUB- The nouns frequently have compound stress: “‘sub,section”.

The locative prefixes, like the locative prepositions, may extend their meaning metaphorically to abstracts spheres.

2.3.7. Prefixes of time and order

Prefixes Meaning Added to: Examples
FORE- “before” -mainly verbs -foretell

-abstract nouns -foreword

PRE- “before” -attributive nouns -pre-war

-adjectives -pre-marital

­ “beforehand’ -nouns -precaution

-verbs -pre-arrange

POST- “after”, “opposite to, -attributive nouns -post-war

-pre, -ante” -adjectives -post-classical

-verbs (rare) -post-date (a letter)

EX­- “former” -human nouns -ex-husband

RE- “again”, “back” -verbs -re-build

-abstract nouns -resettlement


• FORE- It is also used with the Locative meaning “front”: forearm.

• EX- The nouns it is prefixed are specially those denoting office or occupation.

• RE- It is one of the most important prefixes in the language, occurring in many words borrowed from Latin and French.

2.3.8. Number prefixes

English uses a mixture of Latin and Greek prefixes to express number.

Prefixes Meaning Examples

UNI- “one” -unilateral, unisex
MONO- “one” -monotheism, monorail
BI- “two” -bicycle, bilingual
Dl- “two” -dichotomy, dimeter
TRI – “three’ -trident, tripartite
MULTI- “many” -multi-national
POLY- “many” -polysyllabic

2.3.9. Conversion Prefixes

In contrast to other prefixes, their function is to convert the base into a different grammatical class.

Prefixes Added to: To form Examples

BE- a) nouns a) participial adj. bewigged
b) verbs b) transitive verb. bedazzle
adjectives becalm
nouns bewitch
EN- nouns verbs endanger
A- verbs predicative adjec. afloat


• BE- Often some of these new terms have a pejorative or contemptuous meaning.

• These predicative adjectives denote a state and many of them are mainly literary: “asleep” “atremble”.

It is doubtful whether this prefix is still living or productive.

Example of dead or unproductive prefixes are with (in “withdraw”, “withhold”),

for (in “forget”, “forgive”).

2.3.10. Other prefixes

Prefixes Meaning Examples

AUTO- “self’ autobiography
NEO- “new”, “revived” neo-Gothic
PAN- “all”, “world-wide” pan-American
PROTO- “first”, “original” proto-type
SEMI- “half’ semicircle
VICE- “deputy” vice-president


3.1. Definition

Marchand defines a suffix as a derivative final element which is productive in forming words. We must distinguish suffixes which have a semantic value and inflections which have a grammatical value: “longer”, “king-like”. in some cases it is not easy to distinguish, for example with –ing.

3.2. Characteristics

Unlike prefixes, suffixes frequently alter the word-class of the base. Prefixes, though not used as separate words, mostly have a distinct meaning of their own, suffixes rarely have, but as a rule only serve to modify the meaning of the main element (red reddish) or to convert it into another part of speech (clean cleanness).

There are certain words which are half way between a full word and a

suffix, that Marchand calls them semi-suffixes:

• monger (used to be a full word, but it is no longer)

• wise

• caster (newscaster)

As with prefixes we have native and foreign suffixes. Native ones were full words: -hood (quality of).

Hybrids are a combination of both. An example of a hybrid is “gentleness”, “beautiful”, formed by a French word and an English suffix.

The suffix is the element which marks the grammatical category of the word, so there is no structural problem. The foreign suffix is much more difficult to assimilate than the foreign prefix. It is a slower process and less productive:

clip_image001 -age breakage
-ance hindrance hybrids
-ry yeomanry

There are other foreign suffixes such as:

-scape (German origin) landscape

-ade (mainly in U.S.) lemonade (and other sweet drinks)

Sometimes these combinations with foreign suffixes are felt to be rather ludicrous, for example “-cracy” from the Greek only seems to combine with words of classical origin.

3.3. Classification

Marchand distinguishes six ways of suffixing:

a) Native suffix: “goodness”, “helpful”

b) Imported suffix: “lovable”, “kitchenette”

c) Imported suffix with a phonological modification: “Japanese.”

d) A suffix added to a word of a Latin base similar to the English words: scientist (English “science”)

e) Similar to the above mentioned but with no equivalent in English: “lingual”, “chronic”

f) By analogy: “piracy/pirate”

But here following Quirk we shall group suffixes not only by the class of word they form (noun suffixes, …) but also by the class of base they are added to (denominal, i.e. from nouns; de-adjectival, i.e. from adjectives, etc.). Variations in stress sometimes occur.

3.3.1. Noun suffixes

a) Occupational

PREF. Added to To form Meaning Examples

-STER nouns Personal “person engaged in – – gangster

nouns occupation or activity”

-EER “ “ “ engineer

-ER nouns nouns “person engaged in a banker

profession or trade, Londoner.”

inhabitant of, etc teenager


• -EER They are stressed on the last syllable.

• -STER It is often a pejorative suffix. Some have ceased to be considered as derivatives: “spinster”, “youngster” (not pejorative).

b) Diminutive or feminine

English is poor in feminine or diminutive suffixes. Even those that are usually called diminutive are often rather, or at the same time, “affective”. Those used are used with decreasing frequency.

On the other hand, smallness may also be denoted by the adjectives “small” or “little”: “a small glass of milk”, “a little house”.

Suffix Added to To form Meaning Examples

-LET count nouns count nouns unimportant -starlet

-ETTE nouns diminutive nouns a) “small, compact” -cigarette

denoting things b) “imitation” -flannelette

c) “female” -usherette

-ESS animate nouns animate nouns “female persons” -waitress

-Y (-IE) nouns nouns “familiar contexts” daddy

-LING -nouns: animals, nouns “youth” rather than -duckling

persons, plants “smallness” -nurseling

-other word­ -seedling

classes “contempt” -weakling

• -ESS Certain -ess words are felt to be old-maidish, “poetess,” or indelicate, “Jewess,” and are replaced by periphrases (“Jewish woman”). This suffix occurs in three names of animals: “leopardess,” “lioness,” “tigress.”

• -Y (-IES) It is usually added to a clipped form of the base: “movies” (Am.E. “moving pictures”)

c) Status, domain, etc.

Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples

-HOOD nouns adject abstract nouns “status” -brotherhood

-SHIP nouns adject. abstract nouns “status, -friendship

condition” -dictatorship
-DOM nouns abstract nouns a) domain -kingdom

b) rank/condition-earldom

c) a collectivity -Christendom

Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples

-OCRACY nouns abstract nouns “system of -democracy

government” -plutocracy

-(E)RY chiefly nouns -abstract nouns- “behaviour” -slavery

-concrete count- “place of activity -refinery

nouns or abode” -nursery

-non-count- “collectivity” -machinery



• -OCRACY Most of its examples are neo-classical formations. They alternate with personal nouns in -CRAT, with stress shift:

• -ERY/-RY The former suffix is added to words of one syllable, the latter to words of more than one syllable.

d) Other noun suffixes.

Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples
-ING count nouns non-count -“the substance -panelling
nouns of which N is
-“collective” -shipping
-FUL count nouns count nouns “the amount N -mouthful
contains” -spoonful


• -FUL On the question whether nouns in “-FUL” are to be considered as derivative or as compounds see Zandvoort’s “A Handbook of English Grammar”, Longman.

e) Noun/adjective suffixes.

Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples

-ITE nouns(chiefly personal nouns “member of a Israelite

names) community or socialite
tribe, sect, Stalinite
faction or type”
-(I)AN nouns (chiefly Personal nouns -“belonging to” Indonesian

proper) non-gradable -“pertaining to” republican
adjectives Lutheran
ESE names of personal nouns “nationality, Chinese
foreign adjectives languages, Portuguese
countries, dialects”


Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples

-ISM nouns, abstract nouns “attitude, idealism

adjectives political/artistic communism

movement” alcoholism

-IST nouns, personal “member of a violist

adjectives nouns, party, socialist

adjectives occupation” novelist

e) Deverbal suffixes.

The following are suffixes which may be added to verbs

Suffixes To form Meaning Examples

-ER, -OR personal or agent “agentive driver

nouns instrumental” receiver

window -cleaner

-ANT (im-)personal “agentive inhabitant

nouns instrumental” disinfectant

-EE personal nouns “passive” employee


-ATION abstract nouns “state/action” exploration

collective nouns “institution” organization

-MENT nouns (chiefly “state/action” amazement

abstract) arrangement

-AL nouns (chiefly count “action” trial

abstract) refusal

-ING abstract nouns “activity/state” driving

concrete nouns “result from activity” building


-AGE non-count “activity, result of drainage

abstract nouns activity”


• -ER, (-OR) It is added mainly to dynamic verbs. it is an extremely productive suffix. The nouns formed are animate “worker”, inanimate “thriller” and compounds “onlooker”.

• -ANT It is an example of unproductive suffix.

• -EE It is a passive suffix. It is added to verb-stems to denote the person affected by the action “trainee”. Often the noun, while retaining its passive meaning, is not directly derived from a verb base “refugee”.

• -ATION As a rule it is not combined with an English word.

• -MENT Some are added to adjectives “merriment”. It is sometimes used to form concrete nouns “equipment”.

• -AL It is added to verbs mostly of French origin, expressing action, etc. “revival”.

• -AGE it forms mass abstract nouns expressing:

1) amount or collectivity “package”

2) function or condition “shortage”

3) action “stoppage”

4) fee or charge “postage”

5) Abode or residence “hermitage”

f) De-adjectival suffixes.

Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples

-NESS adjectives abstract nouns “state/quality” happiness

-ITY “ “ “ sanity


• -NESS It is a very productive suffix in Modern English.

• -ITY it is added to many adjectives of classical or French origin and

regularly to those with the suffixes. -ABLE “readable – readability”, –

IBLE “visible – visibility”, -AL “sentimental – sentimentality”, -IC (AL)

“historic – historicity”, “comical – comicality”.

3.3.2. Verb suffixes

Verb-forming suffixes are very few in English:

Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples
-IFY nouns verbs (chiefly “causative” simplify
adjectives transitive)
-(I)ZE “ “ “ popularise
-EN adjectives Verbs:
transitive -“causative” -deafen
intransitive -“ become X” -sadden


• -IFY It is usual used in borrowed and neo-classical formation “identify”. Coinages outside the neo-classical sphere tend to be jocular and pejorative “Frenchify”. There is no jocular or colloquial suggestion in such derivatives as “beautify”, “glorify” and “intensify”.

• -IZE (-ISE in British English). It is usually added to borrowed and neo-classical words (verbs adopted from Greek, Latin or French) “organise”. The meaning is chiefly “to make” and “to treat in the way of” (causative).

• -EN It is added principally to monosyllabic native adjectives. it is never added to adjectives ending in a vowel or vowel-like; these are either converted into verbs without any suffix as in “to free”, “to clean”; or give rise to different formations as “to renew”, “to impoverish”.

3.3.3. Adjectives suffixes

Adjective-forming suffixes may be divided into three groups:

a) Suffixes added to nouns (abstract, concrete, personal…)

b) Suffixes common in borrowed and neo-classical words.

c) Other adjective suffixes.

a) Suffixes added to nouns

Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples

-FUL chiefly abstract gradable “having’ useful

n., verb bases adject. “giving…” helpful

“full of’ forgetful

-LESS nouns adjectives “without” childless

“not giving” penniless

-LY personal n. gradable “having manly

adject quality of’ cowardly

non-personal heavenly

nouns of time daily

-LIKE concrete nouns adjectives “having quality ladylike

of’ “Like..

-Y chiefly concrete gradable creamy

non-count adject hairy

-ISH chiefly proper adjectives

and count nouns -non-gradable- “belonging to” -Turkish

-gradable- “having the

character of’ -youngish

-IAN chiefly proper adjectives: “in the tradition Darwinian


• -ISH This suffix may be added to adjectives of one or (less often) two syllables, especially those denoting colour, in the sense of “rather”, somewhat”: reddish, oldish. With ages, it has the meaning “approximately”: seventyish.

b) Suffixes common in borrowed and neo-classical words

Suffixes To form Examples
-AL primarily non-gradable adjectives criminal
-IAL “ editorial
-CAL “ musical
-IC -gradable/non-gradable adjectives heroic
language names Arabic
-IVE gradable/non-gradable adjectives attractive
-ATIVE “ affirmative
-ITIVE “ sensitive
-OUS primarily gradable adjectives virtuous
-EOUS “ courteous
-IOUS” ambitious


• -IC and -IVE in words with these suffixes the stress usually falls on the last syllable of the base.

• -IC In some adjectives it alternates with -ICAL with a difference of meaning:

An economic miracle (in the economy)

The car is economical to run (money-saving)

o) Other adjective suffixes

Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples

-ABLE verbs (chiefly adjectives “passive” readable

transitive) forcible
-ED noun/noun adjectives “having…” pointed
-FOLD cardinal numerals adjectives “multiplied by” twofold

3.3.4. Adverb suffixes

Suffixes Added to To form Meaning Examples
-LY adjectives adverbs (manner, “in a manner” happily
-WARD(S) adverbs/nouns adverbs(manner, “manner and backwards
direction” direction”
-WISE nouns adverbs:
-manner “in the manner crabwise
-viewpoint “as far as weatherwise


• Also -STYLE and -FASHION are sometimes used as adverbial suffixes.


4.1. Definition

According to Jespersen a compound may be defined as “a combination of two or more words (Jespersen,1909, VI: 134) so as to function as a word, as a unit” English like other Germanic Languages, has a great many examples of lexemes which, though felt and used as simple words, are made up of two or more elements each of which may also be used as a separate word. Such words are compounds.

Quirk defines a compound as “a unit consisting of two or more bases”. He thinks that “there is no one formal criterion that can be used for a general definition of compounds in English” (Quirk, 1975:101 9).

4.2. Characteristics

Compounds occur amongst all parts of speech, with the exception of articles.

-Spelling: compounds may be written in three ways:

a) as two ¡independent words: “washing machine”

b) joined by a hyphen: “tax-free”

c) as one word: “toothache”

There is no hard and fast rule about how compounds should be spelt. Often the three forms of the same compound exist side by side: “flower pot / flower-pot / flowerpot”.

-stress: compounds usually have the main stress on the first element and a secondary stress On the second element.

black,bird (species of bird)

,black’bird (a bird that is black)

Many compounds, however, have the secondary stress on the first element instead of the second. If the compound is incorporated as part of another compound the stress and the secondary stress are often changed to maintain the same rhythm”

‘light, house but ‘lighthouse-keeper

In a noun phrase the stress ¡n a compound frequently moves from the second element to the first:

The room is ,downstairs


A ‘down,stairs room (Quirk)

-semantic criteria: the meaning of a compound cannot always be deduced from the separate meaning of its individual elements:

hot dog (It is not a dog that is hot, but “a sausage in a sandwich”)


The merit of compounds lies in their conciseness, as compared with paraphrases following the usual syntactic rules; thus, a “schoolboy” is a boy going to school.

4.3. Classification

Compounds express a relation between two objects or notions, but say nothing of the way in which the relation is to be understood. That must be inferred from the context or otherwise.

Theoretically, this leaves room for a large number of different interpretations of one and the same compound, but in practice ambiguity is as a rule avoided: “home-sickness” is caused by absence from home, but “sea-sickness” by the motion of sea. Only in recently formed or rare compounds can there be any doubt, but the context will nearly always guide one to a correct understanding. On account of all this it is difficult to find a satisfactory classification of all the logical relations that may be encountered in compounds.

Following Quirk, we are going to concentrate our classification on the productive types of compounding and will indicate the syntactic relation of the compounding element by paraphrases.

4.3.1. Kinds of composition in the noun

a) Subject + verb:

1) Subject + Deverbal noun — This is a very frequent kind of compound.

heartbeat (the heart beats)

Other examples: headache, rainfall, daybreak.

2) Verb + subject

This is a weakly productive type. watchdog (the dog watches)

In this class are: turntable, cry-baby, playboy.

3) Verbal noun in -ing + subject

working party (the party works)

Other examples: firing squad, cleaning woman.

b) Verb + object

1) Object + deverbal noun

Compounds in this class are of the kind:

blood test (X tests blood)

This kind of compound may be formed by countable and non-countable nouns:

Count nouns Mass nouns (primarily)
crime report birth-control
haircut steel-production
book review dress-design

This kind of compound is fairly productive.

2) Object + verbal noun in -ing

This type is very productive. It consists of abstract compounds referring to human activity:

story-telling (X tells stories)

Examples in this class are: book-keeping, oath-taking.


3) Object + agential noun in -er

This is also a very productive kind of compound and refers to concrete (usually human) agents. There are some exceptions: lawn-mower, record-player, penholder. Compounds of this type are:

cigar-smoker (X smokes cigars)

Other examples: songwriter, radio-operator.

4) Verb + object

Mincemeat (X minces meat)

Other examples: knitwear, pin-up girl.

5) Verbal noun in -ing + object
cooking-apple (an apple for cooking)
Compounds of this kind are: drinking-water, reading-material.
c) Verbal and adverbial compounds
1) Verbal noun in -ing + adverbial

This is a very productive type of compound. diving board (X dives from a board, a board for diving)

Compounds of this kind are: typing paper, walking stick.

2) Adverbial + abstract verbal noun in -ing

This is a moderately productive type. This group contains compounds of:

PLACE: horse riding (ride On a horse) sun-bathing (bathe in the sun)

TIME: sleepwalking (walk in one’s sleep) daydreaming (dream during the day)

OTHERS: fly-fishing (fish with a fly) handwriting (write by hand)

3) Adverbial + agential noun ¡n -er

In this group, which is fairly productive, are: factory-worker (work in a ~ factory) and others as baby-sitter, day-dreamer, theatre-goer.

4) Adverbial + deverbal noun

This is a moderately productive type and its examples are mostly countable:

• PLACE: home-work (X works at home), boat-ride.

• TIME: night-flight (X flies during the night), day-dream.

• OTHERS: telephone-call (Call On the telephone), gunfight.

5) Verb + adverbial

In this group are: dance-hall (hall for dancing in), springboard, workbench.

d) Noun + noun compounds

1) Noun 1 operates / powers noun 2 windmill, airbrake, motorcycle, steam engine

2) Noun 2 produces / yields noun 1

silkworm, water pistol, car factory, oil well

3) Noun 1 produces / yields noun 2

eiderdown, hay fever, sawdust, gaslight

4) Noun 1 has noun 2

This is a very productive group of compounds. Noun 1 is inanimate:

doorknob, table leg, window-pane, arrowhead.

5) Noun 1 is noun 2

This group contains animate and inanimate nouns.

• ANIMATE NOUNS: drummer boy, woman writer.

• INANIMATE NOUNS: rose bush, pine tree.

6) Noun 2 is like noun 1

This is a very productive type: frogman, goldfish.

7) Noun 2 consists of noun 1

soap flake, apple pie, rice pudding.

8) Noun2 is for noun l

It is a very productive class that expresses purpose.

hand-towel, fire engine, coffee time, tea room

e) Adjectives + noun

In this case the noun is the adjective: blackboard (the board is black), darkroom, dry-dock.

The meaning of these compounds cannot always be ascertained by analysing the elements: a greenhouse is not a house that is green.

f) Bahubrihi compounds

These compounds name an entire thing by specifying some feature of it:

paperback (a book which has a paper back)

They may be formed in two ways:

• NOUN + NOUN: birdbrain, butterfingers.

• ADJ ECTIVE + NOUN: bluebell, pa/e face, heavyweight.

4.3.2. Kinds of composition in the verb

a) Back-formation

Back-formation is said to occur when a compound verbal noun is shortened to form a verb:

housekeeper > housekeep

These are two types of syntactic relation in these verb compounds:

1) Object + verb

fire-watch (X watches for fire)

Other examples: house-hunt, lip-read, brain-wash.

2) Adverbial + verb

bottle-feed (X feeds with a bottle)

Other examples: spring-clean, sleep-walk, baby-sit.

b) Verb + Adverb

The principal adverbs used in these compounds are: out, over and under.

Examples of these are: outdo, outrun, overcome, overtake, underestimate, undermine.

4.3.3. Adjective compounds

a) Verb and object compounds

1) Object + -ing ~participle

This is a productive group:

heartbreaking (X breaks hearts)

Other examples: breathtaking, self-governing.

b) Verb and adverbial compounds

1) Adverbial + -ing ~participle

ocean-going (X goes across oceans)

Some other examples: lip-sucking, mouth-watering.

2) Adverbial + past participle

home-made (X makes at home)

Others: suntanned, self-employed, town -bread.

3) Adjective / adverb + -ing participle hard-working (X works hard)

Examples: everlasting, good-looking.

4) Adjective / adverb + past participle

new-/aid (X is newly ¡aid) -Also: well-meant, widespread, quick-frozen.

c) Verbless compounds

1) Noun + adjective

This is a very productive class of compound. tax-free (free with respect to tax)

Exam pies: air-tight, homesick, waterproof.

2) Noun + adjective

Other compounds of this kind have two meanings:

– as + (adjective) + as + (noun)

bottle-green (as green as a bottle)

– (adjective) + like + (noun)

snow-white (white like snow)

3) Contacts (adjective 1 + adjective 2)

Many compounds of this type have a first element ending in “o” which does not form an independent word:

socio-economic, Anglo-American

4.3.4. Reduplicatives or repetition compounds

These compounds are formed by two elements which are either identical or slightly different: fifty-fifty.

lf there is a difference between the two elements it may be:

a) in the initial consonant: Mumbo-Jumbo.

b) In the medial vowel: zigzag.

These reduplicative are common in very informal speech and some derive from the nursery.

The most common uses are:

a) To imitate sounds (onomatopoeia) tick-tock (of clock), drip-drip (ram)

b) alternating movements ping-pong, seesaw, flip-flop

c) vacillation, insincerity, disapproval wishy-washy, riff-raff, tittle-tattle

d) intensification tip-top, teeny-weeny

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