I am doing a Cambridge Advanced English test this weekend. The free online test they provide online lets you transform words like this, from nouns to verbs to adjectives, back and forth.

•   Come > overcome
•   Fit > fitness
•   Endure > endurance
•   Benefit > beneficial
•   Able > disability
•   Strong > strength
•   Type > typically
•   Severe > severity

Personally, I made the mistake in this one, writing "severeness" instead of severity. Are there any rules on such transformations or is it all about actually knowing the correct word? Can you recommend any resources to practice this?

PS: please suggest me better tags for this post

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  • I'm puzzled by some of those derivations. Come to Overcome? That doesn't seem to be of the same relationship as Fit to Fitness. Able to Disability? Surely Able to Ability? – djna Mar 12 '15 at 9:07

It's mostly about knowing the correct word. A old way of distinguishing between derivational morphology (what you're asking about) and inflectional morphology (plural, present/past tense, ...) is that derivational morphology is unproductive, but inflectional morphology is productive. 'Productive' means that from a basic form, you can predict that there will be a derived form (e.g., starting from "white" and deriving "whiteness") and what it will be. The difference is a matter of degree, really, and there are plenty of irregularities with inflections also. But you can't have much confidence that a process of derivational morphology will actually yield a correct derived form for any given base form.

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I recently studied for the CPE and in relation to this I developed an online tool training for training this. The tool is online here: http://www.rkursem.com/english/wordformation.php

It gives you a word in one class and allows you to fill in other classes, e.g., verb: inform has noun: Information, adverb: informative, etc.

There are rules for forming (some of) these, see: http://www.rkursem.com/english/wordsuffixes.php

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  • It's not a bad tool, I quite liked it but there are a few errors you might need to check out. For example: You placed renovation in the verb box; renovatable and renovative are not listed in any dictionary and as such they are not adjectives. Renovatingly is classed as an adverb in TFD but I could't find it in any other dictionary. Google books has only 26 results including Her fall had brought her renovatingly to earth, – Mari-Lou A Mar 12 '15 at 10:38
  • thanks for pointing this out - I get the classes from an external source, which may contain some bugs. – Rasmus Mar 12 '15 at 11:22
  • be careful, double-check everything. I found these errors after three tries. I suspect there are others. – Mari-Lou A Mar 12 '15 at 11:26

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