In my last post about building vocabulary I talked about learning groups of words. Another good way to build vocabulary is to learn different parts of speech (品詞) based on a key word.

For example if we start with the base verb (動詞) “surprise” (驚かす), we can make many other words by changing the part of speech:

(be) surprised (形容詞) – 驚いている
(be) unsurprised (形容詞) – 驚いていない
surprising (形容詞)- 驚くべき、予期しない、意外な
unsurprising (形容詞) – 驚くほどではない、驚くに当たらない、予想できる
surprisingly (副詞) – 驚くほどに、驚いたことに、意外にも
unsurprisingly (副詞) – 驚くことなく、当然

Surprise can also be used as a noun (名詞), so in the end from one key word you can make at least 7 other new words. The meanings of
words are of course all connected, but have slightly different nuances and so are very useful to learn as a set.

Another common pattern using a verb as a base word is when we add “-er” to a verb to make an agent noun (動作主), for example:

play player – 選手、プレーヤー、演技者など
work worker – 働く・作業をする人、労働者など

There are also sets of words we can make using adjectives and nouns as bases:

happy (形容詞) → happily (副詞) → unhappily (副詞)
happy (形容詞) → happiness (名詞) → unhappiness (名詞)

friend (名詞) → friendly (形容詞) – unfriendly (形容詞)
friend (名詞) → friendship (名詞)

Using the hints above, next time you learn a new word try checking the dictionary to see if you can find different parts of speech to make connected words.

Learning Vocabulary – Parts of Speech