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Another Suffix Spelled s

1. Consider the sentence “He seems upset.” If we put “Now” and “Yesterday” before that sentence, we get the following:

  1. Now he seems upset.
  2. Yesterday he seems upset.

Sentence 2 should sound odd to you. To make it sound right, we must change seems to seemed “Yesterday he seemed upset.”

Words that change their pronunciation and spelling to show a change in time the way seems changed to seemed are called verbs. So seemed and seems are verbs.

The following are three different ways of describing a verb:

1. A verb is a word that changes its spelling and pronunciation to show a change in time.

2. A verb is a word that shows action or a state of being.

3. Most verbs will make sense in one of the following blanks:

“They__________ okay.”

or

“It__________ okay.”

2. Usually we use the suffix -ed to show past time. Many verbs that show present time use the suffix -s . Analyze each of the verbs seemed and seems into its free stem and suffix:

Verb = Free Stem + Suffix
seemed = seem + ed
seems = seem + s

3. What is the suffix in seems? -s .

This -s suffix is spelled just like the -s suffix that adds the meaning “more than one” to singular nouns and makes them plural. But they are two different suffixes.

In the verb seemed the suffix -ed adds the meaning “in the past.” In the verb seems which of these meanings does the suffix -s add: “not,” “again,” “now”? “now”.

So we have two suffixes spelled <\mathrm{s}>. The one for nouns adds the meaning “more than one,” and the one for verbs adds the meaning now .

4. Analyze each of these verbs into its prefix, free stem, and suffix. Be sure to show any changes:

Verb = Prefix + Free Stem + Suffix
unmatched = un + match + ed
unwrapped = un + wrap + p + ed
reattached = re + attach + ed
unlocks = un + lock + s
reweighs = re + weigh + s
untried = un + tr\cancel{y} + i + ed
reacts = re + act + s

5. Add these prefixes, free stems, and suffixes together to make verbs. Show any changes:

Prefix + Free Stem + Suffix = Verb
un + button + s = unbuttons
un + pack + ed = unpacked
re + fasten + s = unfastens
un + fold + ed = unfolded
re + load + ed = reloaded
un + dressed + ed = undressed
re + pay + s = repays
re + wrap + p + ed = rewrapped
re + wax + ed = rewaxed
re + order + ed = reordered
re + packag\cancel{e} + ing = repackaging
un + cover + ed = uncovered

Teaching Notes.

Item 2. Concerning the statements “Usually we use the suffix -ed to show past time. Many verbs that show present time use the suffix -s” : We say usually in the first sentence because a few so-called “strong verbs” show past time by changing the internal verb (sing, sang; come, came, etc.) and a very few verbs retain an older form that uses <t> to spell the past form (sleep, slept; leap, leapt [also the newer and more regular leaped]). In the second sentence we say many verbs because the use of -s in present tense verbs is restricted to 3^{\mathrm{rd}} person singular forms:

Singular Plural
1^{\mathrm{st}} person I sing. We sing
2^{\mathrm{nd}} person You sing. You sing
3^{\mathrm{rd}} person

He sings.

She sings.

It sings.

They sing.

The -s verb suffix marks 3^{\mathrm{rd}} person singular present tense verbs only.

Items 2, 4, and 5. The students should recognize that in all cases in these three tables the free stem is a verb.

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Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

Last Modified:

Apr 29, 2014
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