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Types and Meaning of Morphemes

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The correct use of morphemes is the begining of grammatical success. My colleagues and I have pointed this out to be true.


What are Morphemes?

Morphemes are the smallest units of grammar that have grammatical functions. They are meaningful and indivisible.

Morphemes are indivisible in such a way that they can not be broken into parts. For example, "ed" can not be broken into parts or divided.

Types of Morphemes

There are different types of morphemes. They are free morphemes and bound morphemes.

Free Morphemes

Free Morphemes are units that can stand on its own. Examples: cook, bake, slap, frame, beauty, love, etc.

Bound Morphemes

Bound morphemes are units that can not stand on its own. They must be added to a root (free morphemes) in order to make sense. Affixes are types of bound morphemes.

What are Affixes?

Affixes are units or bound morphemes added to a root word to alter its meaning.

Types of Affixes

1. Prefix: a prefix is a unit or group of letters added before a base/root word.


1. Ante-; in word like antedate, etc.

2. Pre-; in words like prehistoric, precaution, prenatal, etc.

3. Un-; in words like unhealthy, unconscious, etc.

4. Dis-; in words like disregard, dislike, etc.

5. Anti-: in words like antibiotics, antibacterial, etc.

2. Suffix: a suffix is a unit or group of letters added after a base/root word.


1. -ly; in words like happily, sadly, lovely, etc.

2. -er; in words like gardener, flier, prayer, taller, etc.

3. -ism; in words like realism, capitalism, etc.

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4. -ness; in words like kindness, flatness, sadness, etc.

5. -able; in words like loveable, doable, thinkable, etc.

3. Infix: an infix is a unit added or inserted in between a base/root word.

Examples: passersby, mothers-in-law, etc.

4. Circumfix: a circumfix is a unit or group of letters added before and after a base/root word. It comprises prefix and suffix.

Examples: unimaginable, improbable, insufficiency, etc.

Grammatical functions of Morphemes

Morphemes have functions they perform in grammar. Morphemes, when added to a word, can serve as plural form, possessive form, adjectival form, adverbial form, noun form and verb form.

Morphemes as plural form

One of the grammatical functions of morphemes is to symbolize that a particular word is in its plural form.


1. Boy+the suffix "s"= Boys.

2. Champion+the suffix "s"= Champions.

3. Box+the suffix "es"= Boxes.

Morphemes as possessive form

They show someone or something is in possession or ownership of someone/something. 's and s' are the suffixes used in this form.


1. The man's car.

2. The key's design.

3. The ladies' cars.

Morphemes as adjectival form

They change a root word (noun) to adjective.

Examples: the suffix "less" in heartless, mindless, childless, etc.

They can be in the comparative or superlative form.

Examples: the suffix "er" in taller, fatter, thicker and "est" in smallest, simplest, etc.

Morphemes as adverbial form

They change a root word (adjective) to adverb.

Examples: the suffix "ly" in slowly, proudly, sharply, quickly, etc.

Morphemes as noun forms

They change the root word (adjective) into a noun.

Examples: the suffix "ness" in sadness, kindness, softness, etc.

Morphemes as verb forms

They show that a root word or base(verb) is in the form of a present tense(3rd person present singular), present continuous tense, past tense or past participle.


1. The kid plays a lot.

2. She is singing downstairs.

3. That man joked about it.

4. We have taken the food already.

Meaning of some examples of Morphemes

pre- means before.

anti- means opposed to or against.

post- means after or behind.

dis- means not or none.

geo- means earth.

ante- means before.

auto- means self.

circum-, cir- mean around.

dif-, di- mean apart.

col-, com-, con-, co- mean together or with.

de- means away from, down, the opposite of, undo or off.

e-, ef-, ex- mean out of, from or former.

epi- means on top of or upon.

extra- means beyond, more than or outside.

ig-, il-, im-, in-, ir- mean not. im-, il-, in-, ir- also mean into or in.

macro-, mega- mean large or great.

infra- means below.

inter- means along or between.

micro- means very small.

mal-, male- mean bad, ill or wrong.

com-, con- mean together or with.

contra-, contro- mean against or opposite.

homo-, homeo- mean alike or same.

hyper- means beyond, more or over.

intra-, intro- mean within or inside.

inter- means between or among.

non- means not or without.

omni- means all or every.

pro- means forward.

sub- means under or lower.

sym-, syn- mean same time or together.

tele- means from or over a distance.

trans- means across, beyond or through.

un- means not, lacking or opposite of.

up- means better, higher, north or to the top.

semi-, hemi- mean half.

re- means again.

mid- means middle.

mis- means wrongly.

super- means above.

poly-, multi- mean many.

mono-, uni- mean one or single.

bi-, di-, du- mean two.

tri- means three or every third.

tetra-, quadri-, quart- mean four.

penta-, quin- mean five.

hexa-, sext- mean six.

hepta-, septem-, septi- mean seven.

oct-, octa-, octo- mean eight.

ennea-, novem- mean nine.

deca-, deci-, decem- mean ten.

cent-, cente-, hecto- mean one hundred.

kilo-, mille-, milli- mean one thousand.

ism- means taking side with or imitation of.

-ness means state, quality or condition.

-ity means degree, quality or state.

-able means capable of, fit for or worthy of.

-less means without.

-en means made of.

-ful means full of.

-ible means ability.

-ish means the sense of belonging to.

-like means similar to.

-ous means full of.

-some means a tendency to or a group of(that number).

-age means result.

-ance, -ence, -ment mean an action or state.

-ant, -ee, -er, -or, -ist mean a person.

-ery means character or place of doing.

-ess means female.

-ful means as much as will fill, characterized by, tending to or able to.

-ing means an action or result.

-ion means process, state or result.

-ism means belief or condition.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Jessica

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