What's in a name?

Lexicon: What's in a Word?

Research your assigned word (sent to you by email) in an unabridged dictionary as well as a student (learner’s) dictionary - use whatever you can find in the library and online.

1. What part of speech is your word?


2. If your word is a noun, how do you form the plural? How do you form the possessive?


3. If it is a verb, how do you form the present tense? Past tense? Present participle? Past participle? Is it a "regular" verb?


4. If it is an adjective, how do you show comparative and superlative forms?


5. Does your word take any prefixes or other suffixes? What happens when you apply the affixes?


6. How is it spelled? Are there any difficulties/irregularities for learners?


7. What are the pronunciation problems for this word and its forms?


8. What does your word mean?


9. How many meanings does it have? Is there reference to other Englishes?


10. Are there other words with similar meanings?


11. Is your word used in any idiomatic constructions?


12. Is this word frequently used with other words (collocations)? Which ones?

13. Does the word have positive or negative connotations for you?


14. What well-known associations does it have? (e.g. as good as gold).


15. Is the word formal, informal or slang?


16. Is it an important word? How often do you use it?


17. Does it have any cultural overtones (cf. cricket/baseball)?


18. Does it have homophones? homonyms? synonyms? antonyms?


19. Think of a particular ESOL student (proficiency level, study purpose and context). How much of the above would you teach? Will it be easy or difficult?


20. What does it mean to say you know a word?