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English Word Formation


Admission requirements

Introductory (BA-level) courses in (English) syntax and (English) phonology. If in doubt, consult the course tutors before registering.


The study of word formation deals with the ways in which new words are built on the basis of other words, e.g. clue-less-ness. In this course, we will examine a number of perspectives on word formation and apply these to English. What types of word formation processes are there in English? Are the rules that build words similar to the rules that build sentences? How are complex words stored in the brain? And how does word formation throw light on the way that languages change, and on how they are acquired from birth or in the classroom as a second language?

Course objectives

  • Students have gained insight into the different types of word formation in English.

  • Students are familiar with different theoretical approaches to word formation, and are able to apply these approaches in their own work

  • Students are familiar with current issues in the study of word formation.

  • Students in the MA-education programme are able to reflect on the relevance of their presentation and essay topic for the Dutch secondary classroom


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment Method

  • Oral presentation and classroom participation

  • Final written essay

In their presentation and essay, students in the MA-education programme reflect on the relevance of their topic for the Dutch secondary classroom.
To pass the course, a minimum of a 5.5 is required for the final essay.


  • Oral presentation and classroom participation: 30%

  • Final written essay: 70%


If the final mark for the essay is a 5.49 or lower, a resit essay will have to be submitted during the resit period, with a new topic.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Plag, I. (2018). Word Formation in English (2nd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Note: the first (2003) edition of the coursebook is outdated, and is no longer suitable for this course.]

  • A selection of recent articles (to be announced) via Brightspace.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory


For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar

For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress contact the Coordinator of Studies