Learning English
Grammar Rules
Grammar Exercises
Grammar Terms
FCE practice ▼ Grammar ▼ Word formation ▼ Phrasal verbs ▼ Expressions ▼ Collocations

FCE (First Certificate in English)
Part 3: Word Formation

In this part of the exam you complete a gapped text by changing words given, for example changing a noun to an adjective.

The advice below should help, but make sure you read each sentence carefully before deciding what type of word you need. For example, if you see "in ______ months", you might think "there is a preposition here (in) so I need a noun". However, there is already a noun (months), so the missing word should be an adjective (e.g. 'recent') or a determiner (e.g. 'some').


Common endings include -ant/ent, -ive, -ous, -ful, -less and -able/ible. Traditionally we say they describe nouns, so you will often see adjectives:

  1. before a noun (a green dress)
  2. after a verb like 'be', 'look' or 'seem' (he looks tired)
  3. after adverbs of degree like 'very' or 'extremely' (absolutely enormous)

Complete these sentences with the adjective form of the word in brackets.

  1. She was an student. (ambition)
  2. The new iphone seems . (impress)
  3. Everyone agreed that the event had been extremely . (success).


Most adverbs end with -ly (but be careful of words like 'friendly' or 'lovely' - these are adjectives). Adverbs often describe verbs, appearing after the verb phrase (e.g. he played the piano loudly) but also appear:

  1. at the beginning of a sentence (Surprisingly he was late)
  2. before an adjective (extremely bored)
  3. before a verb (he probably went home)

Complete these sentences with the adverb form of the word in brackets.

  1. , the ambulance arrived in time. (fortunate)
  2. It's becoming easy to buy weapons. (increase)
  3. Pandas eat leaves, stems and shoots. (main)


Common noun endings include -ence/ance, -ment, -ion, -ness. Traditionally we say these are people, places and things, but they may be abstract ideas too (e.g. honesty). Be careful - usually there is one plural noun in the exam! You will often see nouns:

  1. after determiners - 'a/the/some/his...' (enough money)
  2. after prepositions (in bed)
  3. after adjectives (friendly children)

Complete these sentences with the noun form of the word in brackets.

  1. My is to take the exam next month. (intend)
  2. The lights went out, and the room was in . (dark)
  3. He didn't get the job because he didn't have the right . (qualify)


Common verb endings include -ise, -ify and -en, but remember you might also need to change the ending to -s, -ed or -ing. Traditionally we say these describe actions or states. In the exam, you'll often see verbs:

  1. after 'to' (he wanted to go)
  2. after modal verbs - 'must/could...' and auxiliaries - 'are/have...' (you should eat)
  3. after noun phrases (all of the tired students slept)

Complete these sentences with the verb form of the word in brackets.

  1. We need to the instructions for this. (simple)
  2. The gap between the highest and lowest salaries is . (wide)
  3. The changes in the marketing of the product us to make a profit last year. (able)

Go back to FCE List