word families
TopTips
Word families: learn one new word and ‘meet' two more

‘My vocabulary is not very good.’ ‘I don’t know many words in English.’ Does this sound familiar? Do you feel the same? Would you like to expand your vocabulary? Did you know that words have families too? Words are related to other words – a bit like a cousin. Let's start with the word 'communicate' - this is a verb. Here it is in a sentence: It is difficult to communicate in a foreign language. Now let’s start the sentence with the noun from the same family: Communication in a foreign language is difficult.  The adjective is ‘communicative’; here’s the same sentence: It is difficult to be communicative in a foreign language.   When you learn a new word, it is a good idea to learn how to form the noun, verb and adjective if there is one. This way you’ll start to learn vocabulary not one word at a time, but in threes! To make nouns, verbs and adjectives, you need to add ‘suffixes’ to the end of a word. A suffix is a letter, or group of letters, that can be added to the end of a word to form a new word. Let’s look again at the words above. Verb – communicate. We add the suffix 'ate' to make some verbs. Here are some examples: translate, create, celebrate, participate. Noun – communication. We add the suffix 'tion' to make some nouns. Here are some examples: translation, creation, celebration and participation. Adjective – communicative. We add the suffix 'tive' to make some adjectives. Here are some examples: informative, creative, attentive. When you can make different forms of words then you can use them to express the same or similar ideas in different ways (as in the ‘communicate’ sentences above). Here are some more examples: Example 1: I am going to graduate next month. My graduation is next month. There is no adjective that can be made from ‘graduate.’   Example 2: It is important to collaborate with your team. Collaboration with your team is important. It is important to be collaborative when you’re working in a team.   Expanding your vocabulary will help you in all parts of the IELTS test. Using different forms of words shows you have a range of vocabulary and grammar. It’s also a good way to avoid repeating the same words, especially in the Writing and Speaking tests. Why not practise today? Choose one of the words below and write two sentences - one sentence using a verb, the other using a noun or an adjective. inform decorate imagine protect circulate compensate attract   It’s important to say there are more suffixes which have not been mentioned here. I'd recommend further practice from Vocabulary for IELTS (Unit 21). We’ll be covering more suffixes in later blogs so please come back for more. Liz

Liz Marqueiro

29 February, 2020

Word families: learn one new word and ‘meet' two more

word families

‘My vocabulary is not very good.’ ‘I don’t know many words in English.’ Does this sound familiar? Do you feel the same?
Would you like to expand your vocabulary? Did you know that words have families too? Words are related to other words – a bit like a cousin.

Let's start with the word 'communicate' - this is a verb. Here it is in a sentence:

It is difficult to communicate in a foreign language.

Now let’s start the sentence with the noun from the same family:

Communication in a foreign language is difficult. 

The adjective is ‘communicative’; here’s the same sentence:

It is difficult to be communicative in a foreign language.

 

When you learn a new word, it is a good idea to learn how to form the noun, verb and adjective if there is one. This way you’ll start to learn vocabulary not one word at a time, but in threes!

To make nouns, verbs and adjectives, you need to add ‘suffixes’ to the end of a word. A suffix is a letter, or group of letters, that can be added to the end of a word to form a new word.

Let’s look again at the words above.

Verb – communicate. We add the suffix 'ate' to make some verbs. Here are some examples: translate, create, celebrate, participate.

Noun – communication. We add the suffix 'tion' to make some nouns. Here are some examples: translation, creation, celebration and participation.

Adjective – communicative. We add the suffix 'tive' to make some adjectives. Here are some examples: informative, creative, attentive.

When you can make different forms of words then you can use them to express the same or similar ideas in different ways (as in the ‘communicate’ sentences above). Here are some more examples:

Example 1:

I am going to graduate next month.
My graduation is next month.
There is no adjective that can be made from ‘graduate.’

 

Example 2:

It is important to collaborate with your team.
Collaboration with your team is important.
It is important to be collaborative when you’re working in a team.

 

Expanding your vocabulary will help you in all parts of the IELTS test. Using different forms of words shows you have a range of vocabulary and grammar. It’s also a good way to avoid repeating the same words, especially in the Writing and Speaking tests.

Why not practise today? Choose one of the words below and write two sentences - one sentence using a verb, the other using a noun or an adjective.

inform decorate imagine protect

circulate compensate attract

 

It’s important to say there are more suffixes which have not been mentioned here. I'd recommend further practice from Vocabulary for IELTS (Unit 21).

We’ll be covering more suffixes in later blogs so please come back for more.

Liz

Liz Marqueiro

Liz has been teaching IELTS around the world for over 25 years.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced

Learn all the vocabulary you need to achieve band 6.5 and above in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. It includes useful tips on how to learn vocabulary and covers tricky areas such as the language needed to describe data and processes. This book also includes practice exercises for each skill, regular progress checks and tips on how to avoid typical errors. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Skill bar

Stay up-to-date