Suffixes in English

All about suffixes in English: rules of use, functions, types, practical understanding

One of the key components of learning any language is understanding its structure and structure. In the English language, suffixes play an important role in expanding vocabulary and giving new meanings to words. In this article, we will consider in detail the concept of suffixes, their varieties and examples of application.

Suffixes: Definition and Functions

A suffix is an ending that is added to the base of a word in order to change its meaning or grammatical role. In English, suffixes are added to the root of a word and can indicate various aspects such as number forms, genders, degrees of comparison, relationships between words, etc.

Let’s take a closer look at it to understand how it works, especially for those who are just starting to learn English.

Definition of suffixes: A suffix is a small fragment of letters or sounds that is added to the end of a word. It has properties that can change the meaning of a word or its grammatical role.

Functions of suffixes

  1. Change of meaning: Suffixes can change the meaning of a word, add new nuances, or indicate specific characteristics. For example, adding the suffix “-ful” to the word “care,” we get “careful.”
  2. Formation of new words: Suffixes help to form new words from existing words. For example, by adding the suffix “-er” to the word “teach,” we get the new word “teacher.”
  3. Changing Grammatical Role: Suffixes can transform a word from one part of speech to another. For example, by adding the suffix “-ing” to the infinitive “read,” we get the verb “reading,” which indicates an action or process.
  4. Formation of forms: Some suffixes are used to form different forms of a word such as plural, possessive forms etc. For example, the suffix “-‘s” is added to nouns to express ownership, as in “John’s book”.
  5. Adverb formation: Some suffixes can turn adjectives or nouns into adverbs. For example, the suffix “-ly” is added to adjectives to form adverbs, as in “quickly” from “quick”.

Examples of the use of suffixes

  • Adjective suffix: “careful” from “care”
  • Verb suffix: “teach” becomes “teacher”
  • Noun suffix: “happy” becomes “happiness”
  • Possessive suffix: “cat” becomes “cat’s” in the possessive form
  • Adverb suffix: “quick” becomes “quickly”

Understanding the use of suffixes will help you expand your vocabulary, improve your grammar skills and become more expressive in your speech.

Types of suffixes and their examples

Suffixes can give words of different parts of the language new meanings and functions. In general, there are four main types of suffixes that are used to form new words in the English language. These types include adjective, verb, noun, and adverbial suffixes. Each of them has its own role in changing the meaning and structure of words. However, it is worth noting that in the English language there are other types of suffixes that also affect word formation. Some of them indicate assignment, diminution, numerical values, professional affiliation and other characteristics. These additional suffixes expand our ability to be expressive and precise when using language. Therefore, studying various types of suffixes will help you better understand the structure of English words and use them effectively for communication and expressiveness. Let’s look at the main types of suffixes and their examples to better understand how they work and how they help form new words in the English language.

Adjective suffixes

Adjective suffixes (-ful, -less, -able, -ous): These suffixes are added to adjectives and give a new meaning. For example, “beautiful”, “endless”, “comfortable”, “famous”.

SuffixesMeaningExamples
-able, -iblepossiblecapable, visible
-ian, -eanassociated with, characteristic ofCanadian, European
-alassociated withnatural, musical
-iccharacteristic of, relating toartistic, athletic
-antcharacteristic of, performer ofvigilant, important
-arassociated withregular, polar
-ary, -oryassociated withordinary, exploratory
-ateperformer ofcompassionate, delicate
-edpast tense, stateinterested, excited
-enstatebroken, wooden
-entperformer ofdependent, confident
-ernassociated withmodern, eastern
-eseassociated withJapanese, Chinese
-fulfull ofcareful, grateful
-ishresembling, characteristic ofchildish, stylish
-ivecharacterized by, promotesactive, sensitive
-lesslack offearless, useless
-enstatewooden, golden
-likeresemblingchildlike, lifelike
-lymanner, degreequickly, softly
-antperformer ofpleasant, vibrant
-ouscharacteristic of, full ofdangerous, famous
-ycharacteristic of, relating tosunny, icy

Verb suffixes

Verb suffixes (-ing, -ed, -ize): These suffixes are used to form verb forms that indicate an action, state, or manner of doing. For example, “walking”, “interested”, “organize”.

SuffixesMeaningExamples
-ateperform an actioncommunicate, activate
-enperform an action, make a statestrengthen, enlighten
-erperformer of an actionteacher, painter
-ify, -efymake, change into an actionsimplify, beautify
-ise, -izemake, change into an actionorganise, customize
-ishcharacterize an actiondiminish, establish
-yse, -yzemake, change into an actionanalyse, centralize

Noun suffixes

Noun suffixes (-tion, -ment, -ness): These turn adjectives and verbs into nouns and indicate a state, process, or property. For example, “information”, “movement”, “happiness”.

SuffixesMeaningExamples
-acystate, qualitydemocracy, accuracy
-esestate, qualityJapanese, Chinese
-agecollection, action, statelanguage, storage
-essstate, qualityhappiness, kindness
-alcharacterize an action, qualityapproval, arrival
-hoodstatechildhood, brotherhood
-an, -ianstate, qualitycitizen, historian
-ingaction, statepainting, building
-ance, -enceaction, state, processentrance, existence
-ismdoctrine, ideology, statecapitalism, criticism
-ancy, -encyquality, actionoccupancy, dependency
-istperformer, professionartist, scientist
-ant, -entperformer, state, personassistant, student
-ity, -tystate, qualityability, responsibility
-ard, -artquality, meanswizard, chart
-mentaction, state, processmovement, development
-ary, -ory, -ery, -ryqualitylibrary, victory
-nessstate, qualityhappiness, kindness
-domstate, qualitykingdom, freedom
-shipstate, qualityleadership, friendship
-eeperson performing an actionemployee, trainee
-tion, -sion, -cionaction, state, processcreation, decision
-eerperson performing a taskengineer, volunteer
-urestate, processfailure, closure
-er, -or, -arperformer, instrumentteacher, actor, scholar

Adverbial suffixes

Adverbial suffixes (-ly, -ily, -ward(s): These suffixes are added to adjectives or nouns to form adverbs. For example, “quickly” from “quick”, “carefully” from ” careful”.

SuffixesMeaningExamples
-ilymanner, degreequickly, gently
-lymanner, degreesoftly, nicely
-ward(s)direction, towardforward(s), homeward(s)
-wise, -way(s)manner, directionclockwise, anyway(s)

Possessive suffixes

Possessive suffixes (-‘s, -s’): Added to nouns to express ownership. For example, “John’s car” (John’s car), “cats'” (cats) – for the plural.

SuffixesMeaningExamples
-‘s, -s’belonging, originJohn’s, cats’

Suffixes of manner and measure

Manner and measure suffixes (-ly): These suffixes are added to verbs and adjectives to form adverbs. For example, “quickly” from “quick”, “softly” from “soft”.

SuffixesMeaningExamples
-lyway, measurequickly, softly

Numeral suffixes

Numeral suffixes (-teen, -ty, -th): They indicate numerical quantity or order. For example, “seventeen”, “twenty”, “fifth”.

SuffixesMeaningExamples
-teen, -tynumerical valuefourteen, twenty

Diminutive suffixes

Diminutive suffixes (-let, -ette, -ling): These are used to form words that indicate smaller size, marital status, or a certain quality. For example, “booklet”, “kitchenette”, “duckling”.

SuffixesMeaningExamples
-let, -ette, -lingreduced quantity, marital status, qualitybooklet, kitchenette, duckling

Application of suffixes in practice

Understanding the varieties of suffixes can greatly improve your ability to analyze and understand unfamiliar words and help you form new words. Knowing suffixes also helps in constructing grammatically correct sentences and expressions.

For example, if you understand suffixes, you can easily form words like “playful” from the adjective “play”, “happiness” from the adjective “happy”, “quickly”  from the adjective “quick”.

Here are some practical ways you can use suffixes effectively:

  1. Vocabulary expansion: Learning different suffixes will allow you to create new words based on already known ones. For example, by adding the suffix “-ness” to the word “kind,” you get “kindness.” In this way, you will be able to use more words to accurately express your thoughts and ideas.
  2. Improving writing: Using suffixes can make your text more varied and understandable. You will be able to describe specific characteristics of objects or ideas, which will help make your texts more imaginative and lively.
  3. Formulating precise sentences: Adding suffixes can help you express your thoughts more precisely. For example, you can use adjective suffixes to describe a person’s mood (“cheerful” “anxious”) or noun suffixes to name specific phenomena (“pollution”,  “discovery”).
  4. Learning Grammar: Understanding and using different suffixes helps you understand the grammatical rules of the English language. You will gain a better understanding of how words are formed and how their grammatical functions can change with the help of suffixes.
  5. Strengthening speaking skills: By using different suffixes, you will be able to express your thoughts more clearly and convincingly. For example, you can describe a quality or characteristic of an object using adjectival suffixes (“beautiful”, “comfortable”) to create an expression that better fits your idea.

Suffixes are an important part of any language, including English. Studying suffixes will help you expand your vocabulary, understand the meaning of unknown words and expressions, and improve your sentence construction skills. Learning suffixes is a step towards a deeper and richer command of the English language.

Task: Fantastic Word-making Adventures

Remember or come up with a few basic words (for example: “cloud,” “magic,” “sun,” “grow,” “friend”). Your task is to use different suffixes to create new words with a meaning that expands or changes the original one.

  1. Adjectives:
    • Add the suffix “-y” to “sun.” Answer: “sunny”
    • Use the “-ish” suffix for “cloud.” Answer: “cloudish”
  2. Verb:
    • Add the suffix “-ing” to “magic.” Answer: “magicing”
    • Use the “-ed” suffix for “grow.” Answer: “grown”
  3. Noun:
    • Add the suffix “-ness” to “friend.” Answer: “friendship”
    • Use the “-tion” suffix for “sun.” Answer: “suntion”
  4. Possessive:
    • Add the suffix “-‘s” to “cloud.” Answer: “cloud’s”
    • Use the suffix “-s'” for “friend.” Answer: “friends'”
  5. Diminutive:
    • Add the suffix “-ling” to “magic.” Answer: “magicling”
    • Use the suffix “-ette” for “sun.” Answer: “sunette”
  6. Numerical suffixes:
    • Add the suffix “-ty” to “friend.” Answer: “friendy”
    • Use the “-teen” suffix for “cloud.” Answer: “cloudteen”
  7. Adverbial:
    • Add the suffix “-ly” to “grow.” Answer: “growly”
    • Use the “-ly” suffix for “magic.” Answer: “magically”
  8. Suffixes of manner and measure:
    • Add the suffix “-ly” to “sun.” Answer: “sunny”
    • Use the suffix “-ward(s)” for “cloud.” Answer: “cloudwards”

This activity will help you practice applying different suffixes to base words, thereby expanding your matching to new word formation. Feel free to experiment and discover the many interesting possibilities that the use of suffixes provides.

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