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Note 135 – What is morphology (in writing)?

“The study of how words change their forms according to use is referred to as morphology” writes John Seely in his book the Oxford A-Z if Grammar & Punctuation. To help explain this, I’ve created a few examples:

Example A

  1. Please relax when you get home
  2. She always relaxes when she gets home.
  3. I feel relaxed when I put my feet up.
  4. Relaxing is something I dream about.

In sentence two, the word relaxes is made up of two parts. Relax is just another word for rest, and -es shows that it is plural. You will also notice in sentences three and four, how the word relax changes form when it is placed in different parts of the sentence i.e. they end in -ed and -ing. The separate parts e.g. relax and –ed are called morphemes.

Example B

This also works for nouns. When a word such as ‘plant’ is shown in the plural i.e. plants, the two morphemes are plant and -s. Similarly, the noun ‘box’ (past tense ‘boxed’) would be split into the two morphemes box and -ed

Example C

They don’t like the cold.
Don’t take them outside then.

Example D

What about me?
My whole day has been busy.

In examples C and D, the personal pronouns in bold are also called morphemes. Did you see how they changed forms in the second sentence in each example?

Note: Morphology also means “the branch of biology concerned with the form and structure of organisms” and “the form and structure of anything”, but this blog only covers “the form and structure of words in a language” (definitions from Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus).

That’s it for today. If you have any questions about this blog, please leave me a comment.

This blog forms part of my writing challenge. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter!/madeirasandra or my new Tips and Luxuries Facebook page. Requests for future blogs (punctuation/grammar/writing tips) are always welcome.

Until tomorrow…


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My website: (includes the introduction to my upcoming book ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’)

Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

John Seely The Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation, USA

Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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