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What are Base Words? A FREE Morphology Lesson

Cate O'Donnell

3 min read

Nov 27, 2023

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Morphology is a powerful tool for teaching older students both decoding longer words and understanding new vocabulary words. A base word is the starting point of morphology. Morphology is the study of the smallest units of meaning in words. It is different from phonics, but just as important.

In this lesson, you introduce students to base words. Base words are a great way to start with morphology because students are already familiar with base words. They are the nouns, verbs, and adjectives they have been using for years. As a side note, base words can be other parts of speech as well, but we are keeping things simple. The challenging fun will begin when you start teaching students how you can add prefixes and suffixes to base words to change their meanings or how they are used in sentences.


base word example of dog


It is helpful for students to know the parts of speech as they work on morphology. If your students need to work on parts of speech, I highly recommend this writing program. It teaches writing complete sentences based on parts of speech. If you need to, you can even use these two programs at the same time.


writing complete sentences



Teaching Base Words

To teach your students about base words, display the presentation below. You can access the presentation from this website for free. You can also purchase the Canva presentation for use at school.





The first slide explains that base words are words that cannot be separated into smaller parts of meaning. As a counterexample, walking can be separated into walk and ing. Walk is a base word. Walking is not. Walked is also not a base word. The suffixes -ing and -ed give the word walk additional meaning. You may also point out that one base word can have multiple meanings. For example, play can be a verb as something kids do on a playground, or play can be a noun as a theatrical performance. This definition may be hard for your students to understand, so the next slide gives examples. You can also get examples and non-examples from students.


The final five slides in the presentation show pictures. Students will make lists of the base words they see in each picture. They can do this on whiteboards or their writing notebooks. After students record what they see, give them the opportunity to share their lists with those around them. This is also a great time to incorporate sentence writing.



Check out this list of base words. You can use this list to build your own activities for your classroom. You can also get a printable .pdf.


base words word list





More Morphology Practice

Do you love this lesson? You can access all of the morphology lessons for FREE on this website! You can also purchase the presentations!


Base Words

The Suffixes -S and -ES

The Suffix -ING

The Suffix -ER for Comparative Adjectives

The Suffix -EST for Superlative Adjectives

The Suffix -ER for Someone Who

The Suffix -ED for Past Tense Verbs

The Prefix UN- MEANING OPPOSITE OR NOT

The Prefix RE- MEANING AGAIN

The Prefix DIS- 

THE Suffixes -ER and -OR MEANING A PERSON WHO

The Prefix IN- Meaning Not

The Suffix -FUL Meaning Full Of

The Suffix -LESS Meaning Without

The Suffix -Y Meaning What Something is Like

The Suffix -LY Meaning How an Action is Done

The Prefix UNDER

The Prefix OVER

The Prefix NON

The Prefix PRE

The Prefixes BI/DI

The Prefix TRI

The Prefix QUAD

The Prefix OCT

THE SUFFIX ION

THE SUFFIX NESS

The Prefix SEMI

The Prefix SUPER

The Prefix MULTI

The Prefix POLY

The Prefix TELE

The Prefix MID

The Prefix MIS

The Prefix INTER

The Prefix DECA/DECI

The Prefix KILO

The Prefix SUB

The Prefix MILLI/MILLE





base words

Cate O'Donnell

3 min read

Nov 27, 2023

0

0

0

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