I am fortunate enough to teach a precocious brood of first graders. One of them, Sam, was instantly taken by our beginning structured word inquiries. He announced in morning meeting, "I want to know what the base is in grandiloquent. Is it < grand >? I'm not sure..." I made some time later to sit down with him and begin our investigation, one-on-one. Here's a recap. I hope it inspires other beginners to jump in with both feet, particularly if you have no idea where you're headed.

His first hypothesis: grand + ilo + quent

Current hypothesis: grand + i + loqu + ent

We looked up the meaning in the apple dictionary. We tried to think of other words with < grand >and then went to the word searcher. We decided it could be its own morpheme (forgot to use that word--next time).



grand + mother

grand + father

His big question was "Is < grand > the base? And if not, what is the base?" We debated whether it might be a prefix.

We looked up words with < quent > and found 'eloquent' as well as others.

Then we talked about –ent, again brainstorming for more words and ending up on the Word Searcher. We found many words in the search, talking about which could have < -ent >as a morpheme (not as in tent). This led to the concept of free bases. We illustrated the concept by making < tent >plural. I suggested the word different could fit in our category, and since we only need two examples, we could go ahead with our hypothesis.




At this point Sam looked at me and asked, "Do you know the answer?" Immediately I responded, "No, I don't." This gave him a big smile, somewhat incredulous. It was my favorite moment of the whole experience.

I told him that some words have more than one base, so we're still stuck wondering if < grand > is another base (free?) or if it's a prefix. He brought back your < -able > and < able > example, citing the possibility of a homograph. I mean this kid is really incredible.

And then we had to stop. We left our hypothesis with:

grand + i + loqu + ent

I am excited to be able to delve into the Toolkit and the Real Spelling website—clearly I need some more resources to answer these questions.

Matt forwarded a brief blurb about Sam's request to Michel, who responded, "So is Sam going to be our interlocutor, giving us a soliloquy on Latin compounds from the verb <loqu(i) locut(us)="">? Hear hear, say I." This was very encouraging!

Now what would I do to answer our final question about < grand >?