What will you learn?

VOCABULARY TRICKS FOR THE WORD FORMATION: This post is going to point out some of the tricks that you can use to know what type of word, meaning which “word class”, you need to use to fill in the gaps in word formation exercises for the Use of English exercises of the Cambridge Exam English assessments.


Word classes:

  • We already know that you can fill in the gaps using nouns, -age, -al, -ance, – ence, -cy,-dom, -hood, -iety, -ity, -ness. see the suffixes.
  • Verb suffixes are usually ...ize, …en, …fy
  • You can also use adjectives, see the suffixes …al, …able, …ful, …ic, …ive, …less, …ous, …y, click HERE.
  • You can use adverbs, usually ending with the …ly, …ily or …ally suffix. See our post on adverbs here.


There are also some other tricks that you can use like:

  1. The trick with “the”. The is a definite article and we know that afterwards we will have either a noun or a superlative adjective. For example, It was the feeling of fear that really got to me.
  2. The trick with “a/an”. These are indefinite articles and they are followed by a noun.
  3. The trick with “and”. When we use and we almost always use the same word type before and after and. For example, I was excited and interested by the prospect.
  4. The trick with “or”. Just like the trick with “and”, if we use or we almost always use the same word type before and after or. For example, We are usually too busy or uninterested to bother with it.
  5. The trick of “adjective + noun”. We can take for granted that if we have an adjective, it will be followed by a noun. It also works the other way around, if you have a gap before a noun, you can be sure that it is an adjective. For example, I have a very advanced level of English.
  6. The “auxiliary” trick. If you have a gap after an auxiliary, it is almost always an adverb. For instance, I am rarely on time for class as I can never get up in time.
  7. The “possessive ‘s” trick. After the Genetive or Possessive case, we always use a noun. This noun can be singular or plural. For example, it was my teacher’s intention to correct the exams immediately.
  8. The “very/really” trick. A adjective always follows very or really.
  9. The “a lot of” trick. A NOUN almost always follows a lot of or a quantifier.
  10. The “so” trick. An adjective usually follows so.
  11. The “possessive adjective” trick. A noun will follow my, your, his, her, their, our
  12. (C1 ADVANCED)The “inversion” trick. If there is a gap at the beginning of a sentence, before an auxiliary, it will be an adverb. For example, Rarely do I make mistakes in exams.



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