The free morpheme is that part of the word that can stay on its own. It is the part that carries the core meaning of the word. It is the root.
All other affixes are added to the free morpheme. When every other part is removed, the free morpheme will still stand. Look at the word TEACHERS. First, the WORD is TEACH.
A person who does this is a TEACHER. The ER is added to the verb to change it. Then, S has been added to pluralize the word. So, what do you think the free morpheme is? TEACH. Absolutely
Bound morphemes cannot stand on their own. They must be added to the free morpheme. They don’t make meaning on their own. For example, ER and S in TEACHERS are bound morphemes. You get?
There can only be one free morpheme in a word.
Look that the following words and bring out the free and bound morphemes:
1. Miscalculated (mis-calculate-ed)
6. Unsatisfiability (un-satisfy-able+ity)
Look at the 10th word again. If you break it, you’ll have MESSENG-ER+S. A messenger is a person that carries a message. The root should be MESSAGE. However, the root is MESSENG. This isn’t a word in the dictionary. So, we call it a bound alternant. Otherwise, the bound alternant of MESSAGE. That is a root that cannot manifest fully because it cannot stand alone.
- All free morphemes are words.
- All free morphemes are roots.
- A bound morpheme is an affix.