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English Word Formation


Admission requirements

A course in (English) syntax and/or a course in (English) phonetics/phonology.


Word-formation deals with the ways in which new words are built on the bases 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?

Course objectives

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

  • Students are familiar with the theoretical methods used in word-formation and are able to use these methods in their own written work.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Assessment method

Presentation (10%), final written essay (90%)



Reading list

Plag, Ingo (2003). Word-formation in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
A number of recent articles (to be made available)


Students should register through uSis.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs