Spanish Word Formation

Please note: this is archived course information from 2020 for SPANISH 742.


This course examines the structure of Spanish words (primitive, derived and compounded) to achieve two main goals: help students achieve significant gains in the breadth and depth of their vocabulary and acquire a solid foundation in Spanish morphology. Accordingly, the course content is delivered entirely in Spanish and all work students produce is entirely in Spanish as well.

The course is organised around five main topics. We begin by surveying the repertory of morphological units (word, morpheme, root, affix, stem, desinence) and learn to deconstruct words by manipulating those elements. From there we go on to explore the complexities of inflection (the component of the word conveying grammatical information) and discover how inflectional categories combine to create multiple contextual variants for both nominal and verbal words. This is followed by an exploration of derivation, the process responsible for developing primitive words into more elaborate ones. Here we learn about prefixation, suffixation and circumfixation. Compounds, words consisting of two or more simpler words, are then scrutinised and the ways in which they differ from primitive and derived words are noted. The last part of the course looks into the morphological structure of specific lexical categories (nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs) applying the theoretical concepts taught. To complement the readings, a rich repository of useful materials is made available through the course website.

For each class, there is an assigned reading and a questionnaire is supplied to help students work through the content. Active class participation is an essential component of this course; students work in small groups to answer key questions about the content presented in class and to do morphological analysis.

As the semester unfolds, students develop their own research projects in which they investigate the morphological structure of specific word classes (e.g., prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns, articles, demonstratives and so on). There are various checkpoints and consultations through the semester to ensure steady progress on their research essays. During the last week of the semester they do oral presentations on the same topic on which they wrote their essays. It is an opportunity to share their findings with their classmates and demonstrate their improved understanding of Spanish word structure. 

View the course syllabus

Availability 2020

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Eduardo Piñeros


Gómez Torrego, Leonardo. 2011. Análisis morfológico. Teoría y práctica. Madrid: SM, 288pp.

Alcoba, Santiago. 1999. "La flexión verbal." Gramática descriptiva de la lengua española. Madrid: Espasa Calpe. p. 4915-4991.

Almela Pérez, Ramón. 1999. Procedimientos de formación de palabras en español. Barcelona: Editorial Ariel.

Ambadiang, Théophile. 1999. "La flexión nominal. Género y número." Gramática descriptiva de la lengua española. Madrid: Espasa Calpe. p. 4843-4913.

Lacuesta, Ramón Santiago y Eugenio Bustos Gisbert. 1999. "La derivación nominal." Gramática descriptiva de la lengua española. Madrid: Espasa Calpe. p. 4505-4594.

Pena, Jesús. 1999. "Partes de la morfología. Las unidades del análisis morfológico." Gramática descriptiva de la lengua española. Madrid: Espasa Calpe. p. 4305-4366.


SPANISH 742: 30 points


15 points from SPANISH 319, 321, 377, 378