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Copy of Inflectional Morphemes

Inflectional Morphemes are suffixes that show number/plurals, -s/-es, possession, -‘s, -s’, past tense, -ed, and continuing action,-ing, and comparison, -er, -est.


Each of these inflectional morphemes could be taught in a lesson or series of lessons. Once each of these morpheme patterns is taught, two patterns, then three patterns can be combined into review lessons about inflectional morphemes.


Inflectional morphemes, by definition have a meaning, i.e. -ed means that an action happened in the past or that a verb is acting as an adjective, a participle, the painted cabinet. Each inflectional morpheme is signaling the possible part of speech of a word. In order to be sure of the part of speech of a given word, it must be judged by the word being in the context of a sentence. Bat can be a noun or verb, depending on the sentence it is in and its relationship to the other words in the sentence: bats flew out of the cave, Casey batted at the ball.


Inflectional morphemes also interact with spelling patterns. At the multi-syllable level the following rules need to be considered when adding inflectional suffixes to base words. The 1-1-1 rule or the single syllable doubling rule, the multi-syllable doubling rule, the Drop the E rule, Changing Y to I rule.


Each of these inflectional endings and the multi-syllable spelling patterns follow the Position and Protection Principles. They make sense linguistically. The past tense and plurals rules highlight the Position Principle in two ways: the -ed or -s/-es inflectional morphemes come at the end of words and the sound of these morpheme depends on the last sound or phoneme in the base word. Let’s use the word, walk, to demonstrate this principle. The last sound in the word, walk, is “k”. “K” is an unvoiced consonant, the voice box is not vibrating as you pronounce it, so the sound of the -ed or -s is also unvoiced, saying /t/ and /s/ respectively. If the last sound in the base word is voiced, the voice box is vibrating, as in the word, play, the -ed or -s is voiced and says /d/ or /z/. If the last sound in the base word is either a “t’ or a “d”, the -ed sounds like /id/ in order to hear that the -ed morpheme has been added to the base word, as in the words, batted and padded. If the last sound in the base word is “s”, “z”, “sh”, “ch”, “ge” or “dge,” or “x” the plural is formed by adding “es”, /iz/,

When teaching inflectional morphemes you can go through a series of activities:

-Teach the pattern directly. (if you need help with this, refer to the lessons in my book, How to Teach Reading and Spelling, Bringing the Science of Reading into the Classroom)


-Have your students read and spell individual words, phrases and sentences with the targeted rule.

- Create exercises in which students label what the sound of the -ed is, /t/,/d/, or /id/ or -s/-es saying /s/, /z/, /iz/.


- Dictate a series of words with the -ed morpheme and have the students write the word on a paper which has been divided into three columns, one for each sound of the -ed morpheme.


-Make up nonsense words and have the students decide how the -ed word would sound if added to the nonsense word.


-Make a virtual bingo game with words with these ending affixes to base words. The caller can pronounced the word, patched, or say, find the word that indicates that “patch” is more than one, or that the boy patched his bicycle tire yesterday.


-Make up a fluency drill sheet with the target skill of your lesson. Have your students do a visual search for all the words that have a plural morpheme that sounds like /s/ or a past tense verb that sounds like /id/.


-Use the same fluency drill sheet and have your students read the words aloud in a “1 inch” voice for a minute.


-Take a series of sentences from a book at your students instructional or independent reading level, have them change all the single nouns to plural nouns, or change all the present tense verbs to past tense.


-Take a passage from a book with plural nouns or past tense verbs. Ask your students to highlight the plurals that sound like /s/ one color, /z/ a second color, and /iz/ a third color.


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