Morpheme Fun Facts

Posted by Brainspring on 2nd Dec 2021

An important part of Structures® is the instruction of Greek and Latin roots we call morphemes. The knowledge of morphemes leads to the meanings of thousands of words in the English language. It will boost standardized test scores as these assessments utilize higher-level language and comprehension. Here are some morpheme facts you may want to share with your students.

  • One root leads to hundreds of meanings. Knowing the morpheme, manu helps to understand words you may encounter in your text. If you had no idea about the meaning of manual, but you knew the morpheme, manu, means hand; you can surmise the words manual labor means work with your hands or that manipulatives mean objects to be used with your hands.

  • Greek and Latin roots are universal and appear in other languages. The roots tele and bio appear in German words (telefonbiologie) and have the same meaning.

  • In Structures®, we learn two basic kinds of morphemes, free and bound. Free morphemes contain meaning and can stand alone (spellspelling, misspelled). Bound morphemes also contain meaning but need another part to work (ing; spelling). There are three other types of morphemes we recognize as affixes:

    • Derivational morphemes: morphemes that create a new word when added to another morpheme. The adjective kind changes to the noun kindness when the morpheme ness (suffix) is added. 
    • Inflectional morphemes: morphemes that are added to change the word’s number or tense. Adding the suffix –es to benches means more than one bench.
    • Allomorphs: a morpheme that appears in different types. Examples are the three sounds of –ed or the plural –s suffix saying /s/ (when added to a base word ending in an unvoiced sound, lips) or /z/ (when the base word ends in a voiced sound, bags).

  • Here are some interesting word origins:

    • Thursday means “day of thunder” and is named for Thor, the Germanic god of thunder. The German word for Thursday is Donnerstag which literally means “thunder day.”
    • Nightmare obviously happens at night but has nothing to do with female horses. A mare was thought to be a female spirit that sits on you and suffocates you while you sleep. She induces bad thoughts by wrapping her hair around you in a “marelock.”The word sarcasm evolved from the ancient Greek word sarkazein, which means “to tear up flesh.” The verb became a metaphor for “speaking bitterly.” Sarcasm means “a cutting remark” and certainly fits its origin.

The importance of studying morphemes cannot be understated. While researching this article, I came across this fun seven-minute morphology video your students may enjoy. 

Morpheme instruction will increase your students’ vocabulary exponentially and help them achieve success.

Written by Ingrid Hartig

Ingrid is a Master Instructor with Brainspring’s Educator Academy


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