Word families

word families 2
Having a good understanding of word families will help your comprehension and production skills – you should be able to make better guesses about what new words mean, and have a broader vocabulary base to choose from when you write or speak.

Here’s a useful table to give you an idea of the basics. It comes from write-site.athabascau.ca – where you can also find a table of what some common prefixes and suffixes mean:

noun verb adjective adverb
beauty beautify beautiful beautifully
competition/competitor compete competitive competitively
creation create creative creatively
management/manager manage manageable manageably
nationalist/nationalism nationalize national nationally
nature naturalize natural naturally
notice notice noticeable noticeably
sadness sadden sad sadly
significance signify significant significantly

To find out more about word families, read this information, and then go and test yourself.

British Council has a useful tool – put one word in the search box, choose your level, click Search, and you’ll get the word family for that word.

This is what you get for ‘work’ and A1 level:

work1 employment
work n U employment
work n U activity when employed
work v IT carry out one’s job
worker n C employee
working adj having employment
word families


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