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How to do Word Formation part of FCE exam

Many students ask us how to prepare and learn the tricks when doing the word formation part in the FCE exam. This section is one of the most difficult in the Use of English paper, next to open cloze of course, but there are some rules that help you to complete this task much quicker. It takes a while but after couple of activities my students were able to change the given word correctly and quickly.

The first and the most important step of this part is to read the sentence carefully to decide what kind of word is missing– is it a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb, is it positive or negative, singular or plural. Once you know the missing part of speech you can modify the word by adding prefixes or suffixes.

How and what prefixes we add

il- 

dis-

un-

ir-

in-

im-

The following prefixes all mean NOT when they come before a word. We often put il- before words beginning with l, ir- before words beginning with r, and im- before words beginning with p. There are few exceptions though.

Which prefixes do we use to make these adjectives negative?

satisfied
relevant
patient
complete
legal
possible
comfortable
honest
popular
legible
accessible
responsible
pleased
realistic
perfect
regular
literate
Answers
There are also other prefixes such as non-, anti-, out- etc.
What meaning do you think these prefixes give to the word that follows?
  • mini-skirt
  • non-stop
  • retrain
  • subway
  • untie
  • underdone
  • anti-freeze
  • ultra-conservative
  • outlive

Answers

How and what suffixes we add to create:

1. NOUNS

– ation

-ism

-ion

-ence

– ness

-ment

-ship

-al

-ity

Make these words into nouns.

a) happy                   f) popular

b) intelligent             g) friend

c) approve               h) social

d) repeat                 i) pay

e) inform                  j) approve

Not all nouns follow the above pattern. Here are examples:
a) true (adj) =>  truth (n)
b) succeed (adj) => success (n)
c) die (v) => death (n)

d) high (adj) => hight (n)


2. ADJECTIVES  

Typical suffixes added to create adjectives are:

– ible     -able     -y    -al    -ive    -ful    -less    -ous 

Try to make these words into adjectives:

1. wind         2.attract           3. hope         4. peace       5. eat     6. create 

Answers

3. VERBS 
Typical verb suffixes are: 

– ve    -ist    -en    -ise    -ize    -ity

Try to make these words into verbs:

1. wide      2. sympathy      3. behaviour    4. clear 

In British English you should normally use -ise

Answers

4. ADVERBS 

You probably know that majority of adverbs are formed by adding the suffix -ly. However, there are few exceptions.

Try to make these words into adverbs:

1. hard      2. peace      3. good    4. fast     5. slow     6. true  

Answers

Now, it’s time to put the theory into practice. Read through the passage below and think about what kind of words you need to make. For example, 0 is an adjective (nervous). Look at the list the parts of speech and explanations for 1-10 and then complete the task.

word formation fce exam

fce exam word formation

Answers