#104 “-en” Verbs from Adjectives

Published on August 25, 2006

=> “-En” Verbs from Color Adjectives
=> “-En” Verbs Collocations
=> “-En” Verb Gap-Fills
=> In the Next Issues

“-En” Verbs from Color Adjectives

Here are some handy tips to expand your vocabulary whether you are a teacher or student of English. The suffix “-en” can make some adjectives into verbs. For instance, “dark” can become “darken,” as in “The clouds rolled in and the sky darkened.”

Most of these adjectives have to do with color, shape, shade, or size.

Let’s start with colors. By adding “-en” to a certain color adjective you can make a verb. Unhappily, like many things in language, there is not a lot of consistency here. Below is a list of eight color adjectives. Use your ear. Guess which 3 can be transformed into “-en” verbs.

white, blue, green, yellow, brown, red, purple, black

Answers at the bottom of the page.

“-En” Verb Collocations

In this next activity, we’ll see 9 more “-en” verbs. Below them is a list of nouns. Write the nouns next to the verbs they partner with best. (A collocation is a word partner). Some verbs might have more than one noun.

1. widen
2. broaden
3. straighten
4. lighten
5. moisten
6. shorten
7. tighten
8. whiten
9. thicken

nouns: bed, belt, gap, road, hair, horizons, knot, life, lips, mind, room, sponge, teeth, tie.

Answers at the bottom of the page. After looking at the answers, ask students to supply other possible word partnerships.

“-En” Verb Gap-Fill Sentences

And now, here are few more common “-en” verbs: loosen, sharpen, sweeten, fatten, lessen, darken, dampen.

Below are 10 sentences with the “-en” verb removed. Choose from all of the verbs we have seen so far.

1. Smoking can ____________ your life.

2. They added more potatoes in order to ____________ the soup.

3. Clouds moved in and ___________ the sky.

4. She is going to the dentist in order to have her teeth __________.

5. The witch’s plan was to feed Hansel and Gretle lots of cakes to __________ them up before cooking and eating them.

6. The bridge is too narrow so they are going to ___________ it.

7. The woman adjusted her skirt and _____________ her stockings.

8. They ____________ their knives on the grinding stone.

9. Many people say that living in another country can __________ your mind.

10. He licked his lips to ___________ them.

For more on “-en” verbs look here:


1. Color verbs
whiten, blacken, redden

2. Collocations
1. widen – road, gap
2. broaden – horizons, mind
3. straighten – tie, hair, room, bed
4. lighten – hair,
5. moisten – lips,
6 shorten – life, workday
7. tighten – belt, knot
8. whiten – teeth
9. dampen – towel
10. thicken – soup, stew

3. Gap-Fill sentences

1. shorten
2. thicken
3. darkened
4. whitened
5. fatten
6. widen
7. straightened
8. sharpened
9. broaden
10. moisten

In the next issue

#105: About Washington D.C.

Copyright 2006 Kevin McCaughey & I.M. Poosheesty

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