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5.8: Another Suffix Spelled s

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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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.”


“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 <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 + try + 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 + package + 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 3rd person singular forms:

Singular Plural
1st person I sing. We sing
2nd person You sing. You sing
3rd person

He sings.

She sings.

It sings.

They sing.

The -s verb suffix marks 3rd 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:
Jul 07, 2015
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