Word Formation

Word Class of Affixed Words

Prefixes do not alter the word class of the affixed word. On the other hand, suffixes do and are defined as either adjective/adverb suffixes or noun/verb suffixes.

Grammatical Affixes

  • -su: possessive adjectives
  • -li: turns nouns into adjective/adverbs (of, relating to)
  • -mo: turns adjectives into adjective/adverb-modifying adverbs
  • -ya: turns adjectives into abstract nouns
  • -gi: transitivity marker
  • -cu: intransitivity marker
  • be-: passive voice
  • du-: gerund; habitual/continuous verb aspect

Prefixes

  • aw-: absent, away [awsenti - absent]
    • awidi - leave, go away (idi - go); awglu - drink up (glu - drink); awpel - drive away (pel - drive/push, impulse/impetus)
  • awto-: auto- (automatic) [awtomati - automatic]
    • awtosahigi - autocorrect (sahi - correct, right; sahigi - correct)
  • dis-: disperse, scatter
    • disgibe - distribute (gibe - give)
  • eko-: eco-
    • ekologi - ecology (logi - specialty, discipline), ekosistema - ecosystem (sistema - system)
  • fin-: finish, to the end
    • findoxo - end of, finish reading to the end (doxo - read); finyam - finish eating everything (yam - eat)
  • fron-: forwards [fronta - forehead, front]
    • fronkadam - progress (kadam - step)
  • ja-: immediately adjacent [jara - neighbor]
    • jale - just (have) (le - past tense verb particle); jaxa - about to (xa - future tense verb particle); jaledin - yesterday (din - day); jaxadin - tomorrow (din - day)
  • nen-: un-, in-, im-, ir-
    • nenmuhim - unimportant (muhim - important); nenkompleto - incomplete (kompleto - complete); nenible - impossible (ible - possible); okonenible - invisible (oko - see); imanunenible - unbelievable, incredible (imanu - believe); nensomno - insomnia (somno - sleep)
  • pos-: opposite [opos - opposite]
    • possahay - hinder (sahay - help); possukses - failure/fail (sukses - success); posdongwi - disagree (dongwi - agree); posgami - divorce (gami - spouse/marry)
  • pre: here/there, present (as opposed to away, absent) [presenti - present]
    • preata - arrive (ata - come); preporta - bring, take (porta - carry)
  • ri-: re- (again)
    • rieskri - rewrite (eskri - write); riadresu - forward (adresu - address); ridoxo - reread (doxo - read)
  • ru-: retro-, re- (back) [ruke - back/rear]
    • ruata - come back, return (ata - come); ruidi - go back, return (idi - go); rugibe - give back, return (gibe - give); ruaksyon - react/reaction (aksyon - act/action)
  • xor-: start of, beginning of
    • xorsomno - fall asleep (somno - sleep); xoraham - realize, come to understand (aham - understand)

Adj/Adv Suffixes

  • -do: in an inactive state of (turns nouns into inactive adjectives)
    • kasirudo - broken (kasiru - break); klosido - closed (klosi - close); estodo - stopped (esto - stop)
  • -ne: in the active process of (turns verbs into active adjectives)
    • somnone - sleeping (somno - sleep); interesne - interesing (interes - interest); amusane - amusing, fun (amusa - amuse)
  • -ple: multiple
    • duaple - double (dua - two); tigaple - triple (tiga - three); careple - quadruple (care - four)
  • -yum: ordinal numbers
    • unyum - first (un - one); duayum - second (dua - two); tigayum - third (tiga - three)

Noun Suffixes

  • -gon: -agon (geometric figure) [gono - angle]
    • tigagon - triangle (tiga - three); limagon - pentagon (lima - five); ocogon - octagon (oco - eight); ortogon - rectangle (orto - upright)
  • -ina: -ine
    • kafeina - caffeine (kafe - coffee)
  • -je: degree [daraje - degree, level]
    • dayje - size (day - big/large); velosije - speed (velosi - fast); telije - distance (teli - far); laoje - age (lao - old); termoje - temperature (termo - heat); gaoje - height (gao - tall/high)
  • -sa: language; animal cries [basa - language]
    • Globasa - Globasa (globa - world); Englisa - English (Engli - England); Espanisa - Spanish (Espani - Spain)
    • bwawsa - bark (bwaw - dog); myawsa - meow (myaw - cat); umasa - neigh (uma - horse); singasa - roar (singa - lion)

Function Words as Quasi-Prefixes in Compound Words

  • anti: against, counter, anti-
    • antidokya - antidote (dokya - poison); antijento - fight against (jento - fight); antiaksyon - counteract (aksyon - act/action)
  • bax: under, sub-, vice-
    • baxgeoli - subterranean (geo - earth, ground); baxpresidiyen - vice-president (presidiyen - president)
  • pas: through
    • pasdoxo - read through (doxo - read); pasjiwa - live through (jiwa - live, life); paspasa - traverse, pass through (pasa - pass)
  • ex: out
    • exidi - exit (idi - go); exporta - export (porta - carry); exnasyonli - foreign (nasyon - nation)
  • in: in
    • inidi - enter (idi - go); inporta - import (porta - carry); inhare - contain (hare - have)
  • infra: infra-, hypo-
    • infratermo - hypothermia (termo - heat); infraroso - infrared (roso - red); infraidi - descend (idi - go)
  • intre: between, inter-
    • intrenasyonli - international (nasyon - nation); intrepala - conversation (pala - speak, talk); intreaksyon - interact/interaction (aksyon - act/action); intrediskusi - dialogue (diskusi - discuss/discussion)
  • le: past
    • lefe - before (fe - at)
  • lefe: pre-, fore-
    • lefeoko - foresee (oko - see); lefeloga - foretell, predict (loga - say/tell)
  • moy: every, all
    • moyabil - almightly, omnipotent (abil - able, capable); moydinli - daily, everyday (din - day)
  • of: off (of), from, fractions
    • offolo - depend on (folo - follow); un ofdua - half, one out of two (dua - two)
  • se: self-
    • semorgi - suicide (morgi - kill); sebawe - self-defense (bawe - defense)
  • supra: above, super-, hyper-
    • suprarealsim - hyperrealistic (real - real; realsim - realistic); supraidi - ascend (idi - go)
  • ton: together, co-
    • tonaksyon - cooperate (aksyon - act/action); tonergo - collaborate (ergo - work)
  • tras: across, trans-
    • trasporta - transport/transportation (porta - carry); trasbasa - translate, interpret (basa - language, communicate through language)
  • ultra: beyond
    • ultrajiwa - survive (jiwa - life); ultranaturali - supernatural (natura - nature); ultrapasa - surpass (pasa - pass)
  • xa: future
    • xafe - after (fe - at)
  • xafe: post-
    • xafeplasi - postpone (plasi - put); xafemorculi (preferably expressed more succinctly as a prepositional phrase - xafe morcu) - postmortem, posthumous (morcu - death); xafexengili (preferably expressed more succinctly as a prepositional phrase - xafe xengi) - postpartum (xen - born; xengi - give birth)

Noun/Verb Words as Quasi-Prefixes in Compound Words

  • gami: spouse, marry; in compounds: in-law
    • gamisodar - brother-in-law, sister-in-law (sodar - sibling); gamiatre - in-laws (atre - parent)
  • hawa: air; in compounds: aero-
    • hawanavi - aircraft (navi - ship)

Adj/Adv Words as Quasi-Prefixes in Compound Words

Many adjective/adverbs may be used to create compounds. The following list includes the most commonly used adjective/adverbs in compounds.

Root adjective/adverbs are typically attached to the main root word, creating compounds. On the other hand, derived adjective/adverbs with -li (leli) are typically expressed as separate words, creating quasi-compounds.

  • bon: good; in compounds: eu-, objectively or morally good/well
    • bonata - welcome (ata - come); bonxanse - good luck (xanse - chance, luck); bonlexi - euphemism (lexi - word); bonmorcu - euthanasia (morcu - death); bonoko - observe, watch (oko - eye/see/look); bonore - listen (ore - ear/hear)
  • bur: bad; in compounds: objectively or morally bad
    • burnini - brat (nini - kid); bursolo - lonely (solo - alone); burlexi - swearword (lexi - word)
  • colo: ugly; in compounds: ugly
    • coloeskri - scribble (eskri - write)
  • cuyo: main, chief, primary; in compounds: main, chief, primary, master, arch-
    • cuyodolo - main street (dolo - street); cuyoyawxe - master key (yawxe - key)
  • day: big, large; in compounds: augmentative
    • daybon - excellent, great, awesome (bon - good); dayday - huge, gigantic (day - big, large); daylil - tiny (lil - small, little); dayxaher - metropolis (xaher - town, city); daybaytu - mansion (baytu - house)
  • fem: female
    • femgami - wife (gami - spouse); femnini - girl (nini - kid/child); femixu - woman (ixu - adult, man/woman); femwangu - queen (wangu - monarch, king/queen)
  • godo: - excessive, excessively, too much, too many; in compounds: too
    • godojaldi - premature (jaldi - early)
  • juni: young; in compounds: offspring
    • junibwaw - puppy (bwaw - dog); junimyaw - kitten (myaw - cat); junisinga - cub (singa - lion); juninini - infant, toddler (nini - kid, child)
  • kwasi: seeming(ly); in compounds: quasi-, step-
    • kwasisodar - step-brother, step-sister (sodar - sibling)
  • lama: ancient [ opp neo]
    • lamahistori - ancient history (histori - history)
  • lao: old [opp juni]
    • laoatre - ancestor, forefather, foremother (atre - parent); laonini - teen, adolescent (nini - kid, child); laodaypatre/laodaypapa - great grandfather/great grandpa (daypatre - grandfather; daypapa - grandpa)
  • leli: former; in compounds: ex-
    • leli gami - ex-spouse (gami - spouse); leli presidiyen - ex-president (presidi - preside)
  • lil: small, little; in compounds: diminutive
    • lilhaha - giggle (haha - laugh); lilbaytu - hut, cottage (baytu - house); lilnahir - stream (nahir - river)
  • mal: wrong; in compounds: mis-
    • malaham - misunderstand (aham - understand); malhesabu - miscount (hesabu - count)
  • man: male
    • mangami - husband (gami - spouse); mannini - boy (nini - kid/child); manixu - man (ixu - adult, man/woman); manwangu - king (wangu - monarch, king/queen)
  • meli: beautiful, pretty
    • melieskri - calligraphy (eskri - write)
  • midi: middle; in compounds: mid-
    • midinuru - noon (nuru - daytime); midinoce - midnight (noce - night); mididay - medium
  • neo: new; in compounds: new, neo-
    • neoklasiko - neoclassical (klasiko - classic, classical)
  • semi: sort of, kind of, partly; in compounds: half-; semi-, -ish
    • semisodar - half-brother/half-sister (sodar - sibling); semikijawi - greenish (kijawi - green); seminudi - semi-nude (nudi - nude)

Numerals as Quasi-Prefixes in Compound Words

Numerals may also be used to create compounds.

  • unbasayen - monolingual (basa - language)
  • duacalun - bicycle (calun - wheel)

Adj/Adv Words as Quasi-Suffixes in Compound Words

  • abil: can, able; in compounds: can, -ive
    • kreaabil - creative (krea - create); okonenabil - blind (oko - see)
  • bimar: ill, sick
    • sikobimar - mentally ill (siko - mind)
  • bon: good
    • xetocubon - delicious (xetocu - taste); xansebon - lucky, fortunate (xanse - odds)
  • bur: bad
    • xansebur - unlucky, unfortunate (xanse - odds)
  • ible: possible; in compounds -able/-ible
    • yamible - edible (yam - eat); doxoible - legible (doxo - read); okoible - visible (oko - see)
  • fil: inclined to, prone
    • ergofil - diligent, industrious (ergo - work); fobifil - fear-prone (fobi - fear); dinifil - religious (dini - religion)
  • kal: empty; in compounds: -less
  • legakal - illegal, lawless (lega - law); ergokal - unemployed (ergo - work); pesakal - poor (pesa - money); luminkal - dark (lumin - light); yamkal - hungry (yam - eat/meal); suikal - thirsty (sui - water)
  • kolordo (kolor-do): shade, colored (See also -sim.)
    • asmankolordo - sky blue (asman - sky)
  • laye: worthy
    • xinloylaye - trust-worthy (xinloy - trust); memorilaye - memorable (memori - memory/remember); doxolaye - worth reading (doxo - read)
  • musi: must, have to; in compounds: (active) must; (passive) must be, imperative
    • active: triunfamusi - who must win (triunfa - win/triumph)
    • passive: beokomusi - must-see (oko - see; beoko - be seen)
  • peldo (pel-do): driven
    • somnopeldo - sleepy (somno - sleep)
  • pul: full; in compounds: -ful
    • kimapul - costly, pricey, expensive (kima - price); yampul - full, satiated (yam - eat/meal); jawgupul - careful (jawgu - take care); brilapul - shiny (brila - shine); pesapul - rich (pesa - money); hataripul - dangerous (hatari - danger); legapul - legal, lawful (lega - law); bawlupul - violent (bawlu - violence)
  • sim: similar; in compounds: -like, -ish, shade of color
    • dostesim - friendly (doste - friend); ninisim - childish (nini - child); dahabusim - golden (dahabu - gold); realsim - realistic (real - real); femsim - female-like (fem - feminine)

Nouns as Quasi-Suffixes in Compound Words

  • bol: ball
    • pedabol - soccer/football (peda - foot); basketobol - basketball (basketo - basket)
  • din: day
    • Soladin - Sunday (Sola - Earth's sun); Lunadin - Monday (Luna - Earth's moon); Marihidin - Tuesday (Marihi - Mars); Bududin - Wednesday (Budu - Mercury); Muxtaridin - Thursday (Muxtari - Jupiter); Zuhuradin - Friday (Zuhura - Venus); Xanidin - Saturday (Xani - Saturn); Kristodin - Christmas (Kristo - Chirst); xencudin - birthday (xencu - birth)
  • dom: place; in compounds: place, room
    • kitabudom - library (kitabu - book); mehmandom - hostel (mehman - guest); dinidom - church, temple (dini - religion); banyodom - bathroom (banyo - bath); darsudom - classroom (darsu - lesson, class)
  • doku: document
    • pasadoku - passport (pasa - pass); xencudoku - birth certificate (xen - born, xencu - birth)
  • dukan: store
    • kitabudukan - bookstore (kitabu - book); yamdukan - restaurant (yam - meal/eat); yamxeydukan - grocery store (yamxey - food)
  • ente: inanimate agent
    • medisente - medicine, medication (medis - medicine); antigutonente - analgesic, pain-killer (guton - pain)
  • fon: -phone, audio tool
    • telifon - telephone (teli - far); infon - microphone (in - in); exfon - speakers (ex - out); orefon - earphones (ore - ear); radyofon - radio transmitter (radyo - radio)
  • hole: sheath, holder
    • xamahole - candlestick (xama - candle); pamtulhole - holster (pamtul - gun)
  • grafi: recording; in compounds; recording, -graphy
    • jiwagrafi - biography (jiwa - life); radyagrafi - x-ray image (radya - radiation); teligrafi - telegram (teli - far)
  • ismo: -ism
    • kapitalismo - capitalism (kapital - capital); komunismo - communism (komun - communal); Budaismo - Buddhism (Buda - Buddha)
  • ista: -ist (meaning limited to adherent to -ism)
    • kapitalista - capitalist (kapital - capital); komunista - communist (komun - communal); Budaista - Buddhist (Buda - Buddha)
  • itis: inflammation (-itis)
    • artroitis - arthritis (artro - joint); mogeitis - encephalitis (moge - brain)
  • kaxa: container
    • anjenkaxa - safebox (anjen - safe); pesakaxa - purse (pesa - money); bezekaxa - beehive (beze - bee)
  • kef: boss, leader, chief
    • navikef - captain (nave - ship); xaherkef - mayor (xaher - city)
  • krasi: government
    • demokrasi - democracy (demo - people, public)
  • kumax: (piece of) cloth
    • banyokumax - towel (banyo - bath); mesakumax - tablecloth (mesa - table); nasakumax - handkerchief (nasa - nose); muntekumax - napkin (munte - mouth)
  • lari: collective group
    • drevolari - forest (drevo - tree); insanlari - humanity (insan - human being); darsulari - course (darsu - lesson/class); mumulari - herd of cattle (mumu - bull/cow, cattle); lexilari - vocabulary (lexi - word); menalari - dictionary (mena - meaning, definition); navilari - fleet of ships (navi - ship); yumawlari - plumage (yumaw - feather)
  • lexi: word
    • namelexi - noun (name - name); falelexi - verb (fale - do); sifalexi - adjective (sifa - characteristic); manerlexi - adverb (maner - manner)
  • logi: specialty, study of
    • biologi - biology (bio - life/organisms); sikologi - psychology (siko - mind)
  • maso: meat
    • mumumaso - beef (mumu - bull/cow, cattle); kukumaso - chicken (kuku - hen/rooster); swinimaso - pork (swini - pig, hog); mahimaso - fish (mahi - fish)
  • medis: medicine (practice)
    • dentamedis - dentistry (denta - tooth); sikomedis - psychiatry (siko - mind); hewanmedis - veterinary medicine (hewan - animal); ninimedis - pediatrics (nini - child); pifumedis - dermatology (pifu - skin)
  • meter: measuring device
    • termometer - thermometer (termo - heat); satumeter - clock, watch (satu - hour)
  • mon: element or part of a whole
    • talujimon - snowflake (taluji - snow); watumon - period (watu - time); atexmon - flame (atex - fire)
  • mosem: season
    • bardimosem - winter (bardi - cold); bijamosem - spring (bija - seed/sow); termomosem - summer (termo - heat); xuhamosem - autumn (xuha - reap/harvest)
  • osis: pathology
    • sikoosis - psychosis (siko - mind)
  • tim: team; in compounds: team, body
    • asosyatim - association (asosya - associate); komuntim - community (komun - communal); organisatim - organization (organisa - organize); jangetim - military (jange - war); krasitim - government (krasi - rule/govern); ergotim - staff (ergo - work); oretim - audience (ore - ear/hear)
  • tora: machine, device, apparatus; in compounds: -ator, machine, device, apparatus
    • komputatora - computer (komputa - compute); liftitora - elevator, lift (lifti - lift); woxatora - washing machine (woxa - wash); tayputora - typewriter (taypu - type)
  • tul: tool
    • eskritul - writing utensil (eskri - write); katatul - knife (kata - cut); yuxitul - toy (yuxi - play/game)
  • xey: thing, object; in compounds: thing, object, substance
    • yamxey - food (yam - meal, eat); kreaxey - (a) creation (krea - create); kostruixey - building (kostrui - build)
  • yen: being (any living being or personified object); in compounds: -ist, -er, -an
    • noun/verb roots: estudiyen - student (estudi - study); danseyen - dancer (danse - dance); medisyen - physician (medis - medicate, medicine); arteyen - artist (arte - art); alimyen - teacher (alim - teach); polisiyen - police officer (polisi - police); legayen - lawyer/attoney (lega - law); poemayen - poet (poema - poem)
    • adjective roots: juniyen - young man/woman, gal/guy (juni - young)
    • nationalities: Italiyen - Italian (Itali - Italy); Mexikoyen - Mexican (Mexiko - Mexico)
    • physicians: dentamedisyen - dentist (denta - tooth); sikomedisyen - psychiatrist (siko - mind); hewanmedisyen - veterinarian (hewan - animal); ninimedisyen - pediatrician (nini - child); pifumedisyen - dermatologist (pifu - skin)

Other Compounds with Content Words

Many other content words (nouns and adjectives) may be used to create compounds. A hyphen may be optionally added to separate any two morphemes within any compound word. However, it is suggested that as a rule of thumb, hyphens be used only to separate morphemes that are less commonly used in compounds, such as those in the words below.

rukebao or ruke-bao - backpack
familname or famil-name - last name
kosmonaviyen or kosmo-naviyen - astronaut
mobilxuliyen or mobil-xuliyen - mechanic

Proper Noun Compounds

Proper nouns may also be joined to create compounds. They may be spelled in one of three ways as seen below.

Ceskieslovaki or CeskiEslovaki or Ceski-Eslovaki - Czechoslovakia
Serbihervatskasa or SerbiHervatskasa or Serbi-Hervatskasa - Serbo-Croatian
Kinxasakongo or KinxasaKongo or Kinxasa-Kongo - Kongo-Kinshasa

Likewise, proper nouns with utara, sude, dongu, garebi and centro may also be spelled in one of three ways.

Sudehangu or SudeHangu or Sude-Hangu - South Korea

Proper nouns with ji may also be alternatively joined as follows.

Antigwa ji Barbuda or AntigwaBarbuda or Antigwa-Barbuda - Antigua and Barbuda

Derived compounds consisting of two distinct proper nouns must be joined with a hyphen or dash.

Mexiko-Usali byen - Mexico-U.S. border

Descriptive Noun Compounds

Noun compounds such as the above may be expressed as adjectives simply by attaching the suffix -li.

xencudinli hadya - birthday gift

Alternatively, the descriptive word may be used in a prepositional phrase with fe as an equivalent of -li. In fact, this is the prefered method when the compound word already consists of three or more morphemes, such as xencudin (xen-cu-din).

hadya fe xencudin - birthday gift (literally, gift of birthday)

This method is especially useful for forming more complex descriptive noun phrases:

maydoyen fe hadya fe xencudin - birthday gift seller (literally, seller of gifts of birthday)

Object-Verb Adjectives

Object-Verb Adjectives are adjectives that consist of two nouns (object and verb) plus an adjective suffix.

mogeyamne ameba - brain-eating amoeba
fikirprovokane idey - thought-provoking idea