Sovereign (adj), Sovereignty (n)

Here is a context clues worksheet on sovereign as an adjective and another on sovereignty as a noun. These are a couple of words central to just about any instructional endeavor in social studies.

For the record, sovereign as an adjective, as it is pitched in the first worksheet, means “enjoying autonomy” and “independent.” As it happens, as an adjective, sovereign carries several meanings. As a noun, it means “one possessing or held to possess sovereignty,” “one possessing or held to possess supreme political power or sovereignty,” “one that exercises supreme authority within a limited sphere,” and “an acknowledged leader.”  When we use this word in English, particularly in social studies courses, we mean king or queen.

You have no doubt noted that a sovereign is “held to possess sovereignty.” What does sovereignty, the subject of the second document, mean? For the purposes of the second worksheet, on sovereignty, it means “supreme power, especially over a body politic,” “freedom from external control,” “autonomy,” “controlling influence.” But again, this is a complicated word that isn’t exactly polysemous, but close to it.

You might ask students, if you’ve taught them the verb and noun reign, if they recognize a word they know inside sovereign or sovereignty. It’s a nice way to help students build the kind of semantic web that leads to transfer of learning.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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