What is a word in English? (Definition and Examples) | Best Guide 2022

What is a word?

According to traditional grammar, a word is defined as, “the basic unit of language”. The word is usually a speech sound or mixture of sounds which is represented in speaking and writing.

Few examples of words are fan, cat, building, scooter, kite, gun, jug, pen, dog, chair, tree, football, sky, etc.

You can also define it as, “a letter or group/set of letters which has some meaning”. So, therefore the words are classified according to their meaning and action.

It works as a symbol to represent/refer to something/someone in the language.

The group of words makes a sentence. These sentences contain different types of functions (of the words) in it.

The structure (formation) of words can be studied with Morphology which is usually a branch (part) of linguistics.

The meaning of words can be studied with Lexical semantics which is also a branch (part) of linguistics.

Also Read: What is a Sentence in English Grammar? | Best Guide for 2021

The word can be used in many ways. Few of them are mentioned below.

  1. Noun (rabbit, ring, pencil, US, etc)
  2. Pronoun (he, she, it, we, they, etc)
  3. Adjective (big, small, fast, slow, etc)
  4. Verb (jumping, singing, dancing, etc)
  5. Adverb (slowly, fastly, smoothly, etc)
  6. Preposition (in, on, into, for, under, etc)
  7. Conjunction (and, or, but, etc)
  8. Subject (in the sentences)
  9. Verb and many more!

Now, let us understand the basic rules of the words.

Rules/Conditions for word

There are some set of rules (criteria) in the English Language which describes the basic necessity of becoming a proper word.

Rule 1: Every word should have some potential pause in between the speech and space should be given in between while writing.

For example, consider the two words like “football” and “match” which are two different words. So, if you want to use them in a sentence, you need to give a pause in between the words for pronouncing.

It cannot be like “Iwanttowatchafootballmatch” which is very difficult to read (without spaces).

But, if you give pause between the words while reading like, “I”, “want”, “to”, “watch”, “a”, “football”, “match”.

Example Sentence: I want to watch a football match.

We can observe that the above sentence can be read more conveniently and it is the only correct way to read, speak and write.

  • Incorrect: Iwanttowatchafootballmatch.
  • Correct: I want to watch a football match.

So, always remember that pauses and spaces should be there in between the words.

Rule 2: Every word in English grammar must contain at least one root word.

The root word is a basic word which has meaning in it. But if we further break down the words, then it can’t be a word anymore and it also doesn’t have any meaning in it.

So, let us consider the above example which is “football”. If we break this word further, (such as “foot” + “ball”), we can observe that it has some meaning (even after breaking down).

Now if we further break down the above two words (“foot” + “ball”) like “fo” + “ot” and “ba” + “ll”, then we can observe that the words which are divided have no meaning to it.

So, always you need to remember that the word should have atleast one root word.

Rule 3: Every word you want to use should have some meaning.

Yes, you heard it right!

We know that there are many words in the English Language. If you have any doubt or don’t know the meaning of it, then you can check in the dictionary.

But there are also words which are not defined in the English Language. Many words don’t have any meaning.

So, you need to use only the words which have some meaning in it.

For example, consider the words “Nuculer” and “lakkanah” are not defined in English Language and doesn’t have any meaning.

Always remember that not every word in the language have some meaning to it.

Also Read: 12 Rules of Grammar | (Grammar Basic Rules with examples)

More examples of Word

Words ListWords List

Quiz Time! (Test your knowledge here)

#1. A word can be ____________.

Answer: A word can be a noun, verb, adjective, preposition, etc.

#2. The meaning of words can be studied with ___________.

Answer: The meaning of the words can be studied with Lexical semantics.

#3. A root word is a word that _____________.

Answer: A root word is a word that cannot be divided further.

#4. Morphology is a branch of ___________.

Answer: Morphology is a branch of Linguistics.

#5. Is cat a word? State true or false.

Answer: “Cat” is a word.

#6. The word is the largest unit in the language. Is it true or false?

Answer: It is false.

#7. A word is a _____________.

Answer: A word is a group of letters which delivers a message or an idea.

#8. The structure of words can be studied with ___________.

Answer: The structure of words can be studied with Morphology.

#9. A word is usually a speech sound or mixture of it. Is it true or false?

#10. A group of words can make a ___________.

Answer: A group of words can make a sentence.



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Summary: (What is a word?)

What is a word? - English Topper
(What is a word?)
  • Generally, the word is the basic and smallest unit in the language.
  • It is categorised based on its meaning.
  • Morphology is the study of Words structure (formation) and Lexical semantics is the study of meanings of the words. These both belong to a branch of Linguistics.
  • A word should have at least one root and meaning to it.

Also Read: What is Grammar? | (Grammar definition, types & examples) | Best Guide 2021

If you are interested to learn more, then you can refer wikipedia from here.

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