Free morphemes are morphemes that can stand alone as words and have their own meaning. These morphemes are not attached to other morphemes to form words. For example, the words “book”, “house”, and “cat” are all free morphemes. These words have a specific meaning on their own and can be used independently.
Let’s take a few more examples of free morphemes:
As we can see, these morphemes can stand alone as words and have their own meaning. We can use them in a sentence without adding any other morphemes.
Bound morphemes, on the other hand, cannot stand alone as words and must be attached to free morphemes to form new words. These morphemes change the meaning of a word or create a new word altogether.
Let’s take the example of the word “unhappy”. This word is made up of two morphemes – “un-” and “happy”. The morpheme “un-” is a prefix that changes the meaning of the word “happy” to its opposite. So, “unhappy” means “not happy”. Here, “happy” is a free morpheme, while “un-” is a bound morpheme.
Similarly, the word “happily” is made up of two morphemes – “happy” and “-ly”. The suffix “-ly” is added to the free morpheme “happy” to form an adverb that means “in a happy manner”.
Some other examples of bound morphemes include:
In some cases, a word may be made up of both free and bound morphemes. For example, the word “unhappiness” is made up of the free morpheme “happy” and the bound morpheme “-ness”. The suffix “-ness” is added to the free morpheme “happy” to form a noun that means “the state of not being happy”.