chapter  22
Word formation
Pages 26

We can distinguish in German between simple words (or ‘root words’) like Kind, dort and schön, which cannot be broken down, and complex words like kindisch, dortig and Schönheit, which are obviously made up of more than one component and are derived from simple words in some way. Knowing about German word formation (called ‘derivation’), i.e. how these complex words are made up, is invaluable for extending the learner’s vocabulary. The importance of being able to work out the meaning of a whole word from its parts, and to recognise patterns like Dank – danken – dankbar – Dankbarkeit – Undankbarkeit cannot be overestimated. Such series of words are often much more transparent in German than in English, as we can see when we compare this set to English thanks – to thank – grateful – gratitude – ingratitude.