In this episode of PassFCE – Word formation – part 3 of the Reading and Use of English paper.
Welcome to Pass FCE episode 13, a Mansion Ingles podcast specifically created to help you pass the Cambridge First Certificate in English Exam.
I’m Craig, I’m a teacher at the British Council in Valencia, Spain, a Cambridge Oral examiner with over 20 years of teaching experience.
In this episode of PassFCE we are answering a question from Exequiel on inglespodcast.com:
I am preparing to take the fce exam and was wondering if you could give us tips or vocabulary about the word formation part which is a bit confusing and difficult for me to decide between adverbs, nouns, adjetives.
Word formation is particulary important in the writing, speaking and the Use of English parts of the exam. It really is important to know the difference between slow the adjective, “You’re a slow driver”
and slowly the adverb, “You drive slowly.”
But I think the part of the FCE exam that tests this the most is part 3 of the Reading and Use of English paper when you have to change root words and put them in a text. Here’s an example:
Listening to a teacher’s voice on a mobile phone would have seemed ____________ 30 years ago. The word you have to change is BELIEVE. The word you need for the gap is an adjective.
Do you know the adjective of to believe? It’s believable.
But wait! Wait a minute! I don’t think it was possible to listen to a recorded voice on a mobile phone 30 years ago. I don’t believe this and I think it’s the opposite of believable.
What’s the opposite of believable? – unbelievable.
It’s really important to read the text carefully and understand the context of the missing word. It could be negative, or it could be positive.
This is how I suggest you do part 3, the word formation or word families exercise:
1. Read the text quickly
2. Look at the gap and the word at the end of the line
3. Change the word (usually using a prefix, a suffix or both)
4. Answer ALL questions. If you don’t know, guess!
What are prefixes and what are suffixes?
Examples of prefixes:
Prefixes change the meaning of a word (believable and unbelievable)
Examples of suffixes:
Suffixes change the word class (to govern is a verb, what’s the noun? government and the adjective? governable (the same suffix as believe)
You may need to make two changes to the root word:
luck – unlucky
kind – unkindly
sense – insensitive
Is the word a noun? verb? adjective? adverb?
Does it have a positive or a negative meaning?
Pepito was very ________ to lose his job.
Sometimes there are other word changes:
adjective – noun
long – length
wide – width
high – height
deep – depth
sun – sunlight / sunshine / sunny
eat (verb) + over = overeat
kind (adj.) + un- = unkind
kind (adj.) + -ness = kindness (noun)
perform (verb) + -ance = performance (noun)
What nouns can you think of that use these suffixes?
-ment improvement, enjoyment, department, commitment
-er owner, teacher, baker, adventurer
-or actor, professor, sailor, inventor
-tion adoption, transaction, prediction, invention
-sion confusion, admission, conclusion, aggression
-ation organisation, imagination, abbreviation, radiation
-ition proposition, ambition, composition, repitition
What adjectives can you think of that use these suffixes?
-ive attractive, inventive, addictive, productive
-ative talkative, imaginative, argumentative, informative
-itive sensitive, definitive, fugitive, repetitive
-able suitable, countable, predictable, enjoyable
-ible convertible, sensible, irresponsible
How can you improve your word families?
Reading helps. Read a lot. Read about your hobbies and pastimes. Read about things you’re interested in.
Identify words as verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs. Learn the suffixes and prefixes of words. Not only new words, but words you may already know, but maybe you don’t know all the different word groups of those words.
It can also help to make a word table. For example, a table with 4 columns, in the first column the verb, then the adjective, then the noun, and finally the adverb.
So, for example, you might have TO CONFUSE / CONFUSED or CONFUSING / CONFUSION / CONFUSINGLY
Let’s try some example word transformation exercises. I’ll say the sentence, you’ll hear a beep where the gap is and I’ll say the key word, or the root word at the end. Then, I’ll repeat the sentence and you say the correct word before I tell you the answer. Ready?
I’m writing in reply to your _____________ in Surf Magazine for a summer job in your beach bar. ADVERTISE – advertisement
My boss looked _________ at me and told me I have to work more hours for less money! DIRECT – directly
I’m in complete _________ with your suggestions, and we all look forward to working with you. AGREE agreement
India finally got their __________ from Britain in 1948. DEPEND – independence
There’s usually a lot of _________ inside Grand Central Station in New York City. It’s one of the busiest train stations in the world. ACT – activity
When my computer broke I had no _____ but to buy a new one. CHOOSE – choice
Everyone shouted ________ when Diego scored the winning goal. ENTHUSIASM – enthusiastically
All my friends were full of _________ when I passed the FCE exam. ADMIRE – admiration
I feel very _________ to my French teacher, although she’s 15 years older than I am. ATTRACT – attracted
Mary Shelley was the writer and _________ of Frankenstein. CREATE – creator
If you have any questions about this part, or any part of the FCE exam, send me an email to email@example.com or record a voice message on our website at inglespodcast.com.
Thanks for listening and we’ll be back very soon with another episode of PassFCE.
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It’s a real pleasure to get an opportunity to listen to (or see) a professional doing his (her) job. I admire your commitment to do these episodes so well!
Thanks a lot 🙂
Thank you, Elisa. Your feedback really matters. It can get lonely behind the microphone, not knowing if anyone out there is listening!
Great!!! I love listening to you and practise at the same time! I really enjoy it!!!!