The Prediction Was Predictably Predicted: Teaching Word Formation and Parts of Speech

The Prediction Was Predictably Predicted
Teaching Word Formation and Parts of Speech

by abepiusc 110,869 views

For your vocabulary lesson, you need to teach students the word “prediction.”

You have 9 other words to teach along with prediction, and thus you have introduced 10 new words to the students. But what if you could quadruple that without taking more time? By teaching students basic word formation skills early in the term, you can teach them prediction, predict, predictable, and predictably all at the same time. Once you’ve taught students how to manipulate parts of speech in a sentence, they now have increased their vocabulary by four words instead of just one.

Teaching word formation can be challenging, and students can often get confused as to whether they should use the adjective or the adverb. Yet, if you teach them these simple guidelines below, you’ll be ready to start increasing their vocabulary four-fold with every new vocabulary list you provide.

How to Teach Word Formation and Parts of Speech

  1. 1


    Create a chart/table that has four columns for noun/verb/adjective/adverb and as many rows as new vocabulary words you introduce. It’s beneficial to give students their own individual chart so that they can use it for studying, but it would also be helpful to keep a large chart in the classroom so students can easily be reminded of the patterns found within.

    Don’t feel obliged to complete all four columns for every word as not every word in English neatly breaks down into these four word forms. Sometimes a word won’t have all of the forms, or the forms may be rarely used in English. Having gaps in the chart will reinforce the idea that they can’t always apply these patterns.

  2. 2

    Teach common suffixes

    By using a chart as recommended above, students will also begin to see similarities among word endings. Help them to discover the most common endings for parts of speech and even relationships between parts of speech. For example, guide them to figuring out that adjectives ending in –able/-ible often take the noun ending –ity. (e.g. responsible- responsibility; possible-possibility; capable- capability)

    Here are some other patterns to help your students discover within the chart:

    • Common endings –
      • Nouns for things = ment; -ity; -ness; -tion
      • Nouns for people = -er; -or; -ist
      • Verbs = rarely have special endings because they get manipulated for tense; usually the shortest word form
      • Adjectives = -ous; -able/-ible; -al; -ed/-ing; -ful/-less; -ic; -ive
      • Adverbs = -ly
    • To form an adverb, add –ly to the adjective form (not the noun/verb form)
    • If two word forms are the same, it will usually be the noun and verb (e.g.: parent, answer, guess).
    • Nouns ending in –tion will usually take the –al suffix for adjectives.

    Be sure to stress to your students that these are patterns, not “rules,” and that there will be some exceptions to most of these patterns. However, by establishing these patterns concretely, students will be able to vastly improve their vocabulary quickly, and they will more readily notice and remember exceptions to the pattern.

  3. 3

    Teach Common “Guidelines” for usage

    Knowing the correct part of speech for a word form is important, but it’s less than half the battle. The real challenge comes with being able to know how to use it appropriately in a sentence. Below are some (but definitely not all) of the most common usage patterns. Again, emphasize that these are just guidelines because there are many exceptions in English. Once you have taught students these patterns, they will be able to use most word forms immediately in their writing.


    • Nouns are people, places, or things.
    • Nouns always come before verbs and after verbs.
    • Every sentence will have at least one noun.

    Nouns are usually in these positions:

    • a/an/the ___________
      • The prediction came true.
    • adjective ___________
      • Wrong predictions are dangerous.
    • Possessive (my, your, his, her, John’s) ________
      • Their prediction was wrong.
    • have ____________
      • I have a prediction.
    • ________ Verb
      • Predictions make people’s lives easier.


    • Verbs show the action or state of being in a sentence.
    • Verbs usually aren’t the first word in a sentence.
      • Exception—Commands: (Go to class.)
    • EVERY sentence MUST have a verb!

    Verbs are usually in these positions:

    • Subject ________________
      • Jessica predicted that she would win the game yesterday.
    • Adverb _______________
      • He always predicts the weather.
    • can/should/might/must _________
      • She can’t predict what he will do.
    • didn’t/don’t ____________
      • Don’t predict something unless you know it is true.
    • to ________
      • I’m going to predict your future.


    • Adjectives describe nouns (people, places, and things).
    • They answer the question: “What kind of person/place/thing?”

    Adjectives are usually in these positions:

    • am/is/are/was/were _______________
      • The game was predictable.
    • _________ noun
      • Predictable people are easy to understand.
    • very __________________
      • Tony is a very predictable person.
    • adverb _______________
      • Tony is always predictable.
    • a/an/the ______________ noun
      • The predictable answer was “yes.”


    • Adverbs describe verbs or adjectives.
    • They answer the question “How did he do it?”
    • Usually, you add -ly to the adjective to make an adverb (but not always!)

    Adverbs are usually in these positions:

    • _____________________ ,
      • Predictably, Tommy was late again.
    • __________________ Verb
      • He predictably walked in late.
    • Verb __________________
      • He walked quickly.
    • very _________________
      • He walked very quickly.
    • ________________________ Adjective
      • Tom is predictably late.

How to Practice Word Formation and Parts of Speech:

  1. 1

    “Word Up” Review Game

    Write each word form on two different note cards (or make things easy on yourself by printing the word forms on the computer and then cutting them into individual words). Divide students into two equal teams and have them sit in two lines facing their opposing team. Distribute one whole set of word forms equally amongst each team such that for every word form, a student on Team A has the word and a student on Team B has the word. Stand in front of the students and call out the word and part of speech you want for that word (e.g., “The noun form for predict”). The first student to raise their hand with the word prediction earns a point for their team. Continue until you’ve gone through all the word forms; keep in mind that going back and repeating word forms you have already called out will help keep all students on their toes and engaged in the activity.

  2. 2

    Grab the ___________

    Print off sets of all of your word forms; make sure you have enough for as many groups as you want. Put students into groups of three or four and have them arrange their desks in a small circle with each other. Arrange the word forms evenly on all the students’ desks. At the front, call out a command – “Grab all the adverbs” and students must race the other members of their group to collect as many adverbs as possible. Alternatively, you can follow the pattern of the “Word Up” game in this small group fashion and have students grab the individual word forms that you call out as well.

  3. 3

    Go Fish

    In groups of three or four, distribute one set of all of the word forms to each group. Each student should have four words in their hand with the remaining words spread out face-down on a desk. Students must ask each other for the appropriate forms that they need to complete a “set” (i.e. adverb, adjective, noun, and verb). For example, Student A might ask Student B if he has the “Noun form of predict.” If he does, Student B must give Student A the form; if Student B does not have it, Student A draws a word form from the pile on the desk.

While not all of a learner’s target vocabulary will be applicable to word formation (prepositions, idioms, phrasal verbs, etc…), teaching students basic word formation skills will help them to not only build their vocabulary faster but also be more confident with how to use words in sentences.

How do you get students to use word forms correctly?

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