Fifty Familiar Words for Teaching Common Prefixes, Suffixes and Roots

Chunking Words

Patricia Cunningham’s Nifty Thrifty Fifty are fifty words that are familiar to most intermediate students and can be used to teach common prefixes, suffixes, roots and the spelling changes that go along with them. She suggests teaching five of these words a week and making sure to practise transferring the knowledge to other words.

OUTSIDE THE WORD, INSIDE THE WORD refers to using context clues and morphological chunks (as in the Nifty Thrifty Fifty) and is probably the most useful word-solving strategy for students beyond primary grades.


  • antifreeze (anti )
  • beautiful (ful )
  • classify (ify)
  • communities (com, ies)
  • community (com)
  • composer (com, er)
  • continuous (con, ous)
  • conversation (con, tion)
  • deodorize (de, ize)
  • different (ent)
  • discovery (dis, y)
  • dishonest (dis)
  • electricity (ity)
  • employee (em, ee)
  • encouragement (en, ment)
  • expensive (ex, ive)
  • governor (or)
  • happiness (ness)
  • hopeless (less)
  • illegal (il)
  • impossible (im, ible)
  • impression (im, ion)
  • independence (in, ence)
  • invasion (in, ion)
  • international (inter, al)
  • irresponsible (ir, ible)
  • midnight (mid)
  • misunderstood (mis)
  • musician (ian)
  • nonviolent (non)
  • overpower (over)
  • patiently (ly)
  • performance (ance)
  • prehistoric (pre, ic)
  • prettier (ier)
  • promotion (tion)
  • rearrange (re)
  • replacement (re, ment)
  • richest (est)
  • semifinal (semi)
  • signature (ture)
  • submarine (sub)
  • supermarkets (super)
  • swimming (ing)
  • transportation (trans, tion)
  • underweight (under)
  • unfinished (un, ed)
  • unpleasant (un, ant)
  • valuable (able)
  • written (en)
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