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Verb-Noun Formation - Teacher's Notes Bookmark and Share

Back to Grammar  Verb-Noun 1


One of the most important and productive aspects of the English verb system is the phrasal verb system. Students cannot have a good command of English without learning a substantial number of these verbs with their various meanings. However, there is also a growing trend to form many phrasal verbs into nouns and, by extension, adjectives by shifting the stress from the adverb to the verb (shown here with the stressed part in italics):

take a pizza away (verb) --> a take-away pizza (noun)

This type of noun formation is extremely productive and the newly formed nouns are in common, colloquial use. These worksheets present the the most common of these derivations. Generally, the nouns have the same meaning of the verbs, but sometimes they differ. Also, the noun may take on only one of the verb's meanings.

As with phrasal verbs, the nouns may replace other nouns which are not derived from phrasal verbs. The new derivations are generally more colloquial and informal than their synonyms, and are generally hyphenated until they become established and accepted terms, when they are often written as one word. Here are some examples:

set-up = organisation; check-up = examination; break-up = separation

One useful activity is to get the students to notice as many examples of these nouns as possible in and out of class and record them for future use. There will be many more of these nouns in the password-protected pages.

© Marc Loewenthal,, 2000-2012