Suffixes

Suffixes are particles with separate meanings placed at the end of a root or a stem. Adding them to our words defines the final meaning of the whole term.

How to use "Suffixes" in English Grammar

What Are Suffixes?

A suffix is a type of affix that is added to the end of a word to change its meaning or form a new word. Suffixes are commonly used in English to create new words, modify the grammatical function of an existing word, or change the tense or form of a verb.

Suffixes: Types

Suffixes can change the part of speech (lexical classes) and the meaning of words. They are commonly categorized into two groups: 'English suffixes' and 'Latin suffixes'.
The main difference between these two types of suffixes is that English suffixes are added to a meaningful stem, while Latin suffixes are added to a stem that has lost its meaning in most cases. Additionally, in English suffixes, both the part of speech of the stem and that of the new word are important, while in Latin suffixes, only the part of speech of the output is considered important.

1. English Suffixes

In the following, you can see English suffixes that can make a noun, an adjective, a verb, or an adverb.

Using suffixes to create a noun from a verb

1.1 Noun Makers

These are suffixes that are added to an adjective, a verb, or a noun stem to make a noun.

  • Adjective → Noun
POS of Stems: Adjective Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
Free -dom Freedom State of, condition of
Safe, loyal -ty Safety, loyalty The quality or condition
Legal -ist Legalist, Adherent to a belief, a system, a principe
Legal -ism Legalism A system, principle, or ideological movement
Warm -th Warmth A state or condition
Absent -ee Absentee A person described as or concerned with
  • Verb → Noun
POS of Stems: Verb Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
Bore -dom boredom A state or condition
Bake, brew, refine -ery Bakery, brewery, refinery A commerce
Advise, abolish -ment Advisement, abolishment A state or condition
Employ -ee Employee A person in a specified state or condition
Assign -ee Assignee A recipient of an action
Loan, invest -er/-or Loaner, investor A performer of a particular action
Sleep, fight, win -ing Sleeping, fighting, winning A verbal action that shows the process or result of something
  • Noun → Noun
POS of Stems: Noun Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
Star -dom Stardom A state or condition
Machine, green -ery Machinery, greenery A collection of
Slave -ery Slavery The state or condition of
Pot -ery Pottery The product or goods of
Engine -eer Engineer A person engaged in an activity
Member, friend, companion -ship Membership, friendship, companionship A quality or condition
Ambassador, lord -ship Ambassadorship, lordship Denoting rank, office, or position
Workman, scholar -ship Workmanship, scholarship Denoting craft or skill
Boot, goat -ee Bootee, goatee A smaller size
Tube, soldier -ing Tubing, soldiering Something used in, consisting of, involving, etc.
Solo, motor -ist Soloist, motorist A person who performs a certain action
Human -ist Humanist A person who follows a particular doctrine, system, etc.
Physic -ist Physicist A member of a profession, a person who practices in a specified field
Sex, age -ist Sexist, ageist A person who advocates discriminative practices
Human -ism Humanism A particular doctrine, system, etc.

1.2 Adjective Makers

These tables show the suffixes that are added to nouns or adjectives to make an adjective.

  • Noun → Adjective
POS of Stems: Noun Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjectives Meaning
Child -like Childlike Similar to
Clock -wise Clockwise In the same direction
Back -ward Backward Turned or tending towards.
Biology -ic Biologic Of, relating to, or resembling
Dirt -y Dirty Denoting characteristics
Knight -hood Knighthood A condition or quality
Brother -hood Brotherhood A group
Fate, pain -ful Fateful, painful Full of or characterized by
Spoon, mouth -ful Spoonful, mouthful Indicating what fills a specified thing
Arm -ed Armed Having the characteristics of
Fear -less Fearless Denoting lacking
  • Adjective → Adjective
POS of Stems: Adjective Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjectives Meaning
Red, blue -ish Redish, bluish Somewhat; approximately
Boy, devil -ish Boyish, devilish Resembling
Tall -er Taller More
Tall -est Tallest The most

1. 3 Verb Makers

These tables indicate the suffixes that make a verb from nouns or adjectives.

  • Noun → Verb
POS of Stems: Noun Suffixe POS of Outputs: Verb Meaning
Strength, height -en Strengthen, heighten Cause to be; become
  • Adjective → Verb
POS of Stems: Adjective Suffixe POS of Outputs: Verb Meaning
Fast, black -en Fasten, blacken Cause to be; become

1.4 Adverb Makers

This table illustrates the suffixes that can make an adverb out of an adjective.

  • Adjective → Adverb
POS of Stems: Adjective Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adverb Meaning
Bilingual -ly Bilingually In a particular way
East -wards Eastwards Towards a specific place or direction

2. Latin Suffixes

In Latin suffixes, only the part of speech of the output is important; however, recognizing the part of speech of input helps us with the morphology of words. It is important to know that Latin suffixes have lost their meaning in the English language.
In this part, you will learn suffixes that make a noun, an adjective, or a verb.

2.1 Noun Makers

Take a look at the tables of Latin suffixes that make nouns.

  • -ion, -ition, -ation, -ssion, -hesion, -sion, -ration
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
verb -ion Creation, invention, rejection Denoting action; process
verb -ition Addition, position ''
Sometimes verb (accept, accuse) -ation Acceptation, accusation, accomodation ''
- -ssion Concession, admission, succession ''
- -hesion Cohesion, adhesion ''
- -sion Evasion, expansion, explosion ''
- -ration Ministration, registration ''
  • -ance, -ence, -ttance, -dence, -ancy
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
- -ance Abundance, pleasance, instance Denoting the state /the condition
- -ence Confidence, advertence, deterrence ''
- -ttance Admittance Denoting the process /act
- -dence Concedence ''
- -ancy Abundancy, dormancy, instancy Denoting state or quality
  • -aticity,-ivity, -icity, -ity, -ativity, -itivity
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
- -aticity chromaticity Denoting the quality/state
Verb (create, react, diffuse) -ivity Creativity, reactivity, diffusivity ''
- -icity Electricity, elasticity ''
Adjective (legal, moral, fertile) -ity Legality, morality, fertility ''
- -ativity Operativity ''
Sometimes verb (pose, add) -itivity Positivity, additivity, intuitivity ''
  • -ure, -ature
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
Verb (create, conject, gest) -ure Creature, conjecture, gesture Denoting the result
Verb (sign) -ature Signature ''
  • -ment
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
Verb (abolish, accomplish, discourage) -ment Abolishment, accomplishment, discouragement Denoting the state of being; act of
  • -ia, -a
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
- -ia Academia, schizophrenia -
- -a Drama, diploma -
  • -ification, -ication
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
- -ification Glorification, certification Denoting the action, process
commune -ication Communication ''
  • -iety, -ity
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
- -iety notoriety Denoting the state
- -ity ambiguity, simultaneity ''
  • -re/-er, -or/-er, -ator, -der/-ter/-dor/-tor
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
- -re/-er ministre One who; person connected with
Create, invent, reject -or/-er Creator, inventor, rejecter ''
Verb (sign, accuse) -ator Signator, accusator ''
Verb (evade, decide, expand, convert) -der/-ter/-dor/-tor Evader, decider, expandor, convertor ''
  • -entary, -ician, -ist, -ificate, -osity, -rant
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Noun Meaning
- -entary Documentary -
-ician Politician, magician, optician A person who is involved in...
Noun (human, commune) -ist Humanist, communist A person who supports...
- -ificate Significate, pontificate, certificate Denoting the quality of...
- -osity Hediosity, nervosity, curiosity ''
- -rant Ministrant -

2.2 Adjective Makers

Take a look at the tables of Latin suffixes that make adjectives.

  • -ic, -atic, -aturgic, -ics
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjective Meaning
Noun (academy, acid, alcohol, allergy) -ic Academic, acidic, alcoholic, allergic Having characteristics of
- -atic, Dramatic, diplomatic, chromatic ''
- -aturgic Dramaturgic ''
- -ics Politics ''
  • -ive, -ative, -ssive, -hesive
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjective Meaning
Create, invent, reject -ive, Creative, inventive, rejective Having characteristics of
Accuse -ative, Accusative ''
- -ssive, Concessive, admissive, successive ''
- -hesive Cohesive, adhesive ''
  • -itory, -ory, -atory
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjective Meaning
Verb (add) -itory Additory Having characteristics of
Verb (invent, contradict) -ory Inventory, contradictory ''
Sometimes verb (accuse) -atory Mediatory, accusatory ''
  • -ral, -erial, -al, -inal, -ial, -tial
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjective Meaning
- -ral Ancestral Having characteristics of
- -erial Ministerial, registerial ''
Noun (humor, accident, region) -al Humoral, accidental, regional ''
Noun (crime) -inal Criminal ''
Sometimes noun (mater, part) -ial Material, partial, maleficial ''
- -tial Confidential ''
  • -able, -ible
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjective Meaning
Sometimes verb (prevent) -able Portable, preventable Capable or worthy of
Sometimes noun (access) -ible Accessible, credible ''
  • -ent, -herent
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjective Meaning
Adjective (benefic, malefic) -ent Beneficent, maleficent Having characteristics of
- -herent Coherent, adherent ''
  • -ous, -ious, -inous, -itious
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjective Meaning
Sometimes noun (humor) -ous Adulterous, simultaneous, humorous Having qualities of
Sometimes noun (labor) -ious Laborious, notorious ''
Noun (crime) -inous Criminous ''
- -itious Nutritious, repetitious ''
  • -ant, -ate, -ificant
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Adjective Meaning
- -ant Pleasant, abundant, instant, dormant Existing in a certain condition
- -ate Democrate, accurate ''
- -ificant Significant, certificant ''

2.3 Verb Makers

Now take a look at the tables of Latin suffixes making verbs.

  • -ize, -itivize, -atize/-atise
POS of Stems Suffixes POS of Outputs: Verb Meaning
Adjective (legal, fertile, moral) -ize Legalize, fertilize, moralize To make or cause to become
- -itivize Positivize ''
- -atize/-atise Dramatize, dramatise ''

Compound Suffixes

Most of the time, English suffixes are used together to make a compound suffix, such as the suffix -ly which always makes an adverb even if it is used with other suffixes like –wise, -istical, etc. Additionally, Latin suffixes can be used together to make a compound suffix. For example:

Clock + -wisely (-wise +-ly) = clockwisely

English compound suffix

Create + -ional (-ion + -al) = creational

Latin compound suffix

It is noteworthy to know that English suffixes can be used with Latin suffixes like '-wardation' as –ward is English and –ation is Latin. Look:

Back + -wardation (-ward + -ation) = backwardation

Notes about Suffixes

Here are some tips to remember when using suffixes:

  • Some suffixes have more than one meaning, such as the suffix -er.

teacher, worker vs. slower, faster

The suffix -er in the two first examples indicates the performer or doer of the action, while in the last two examples, it makes a comparative adjective.

  • When the root of the word ends in the letter 'y' or the silent 'e' and the suffix starts with a vowel, the letter 'y' changes to 'i' and the silent 'e' is removed.

crazy → craziness

crime → criminal

Warning

Be careful that some roots ending with a vowel do not change even if they are accompanied by suffixes starting with vowels, as in 'changeable' and 'loveable'. Additionally, when the suffix '-ing' is added to root words ending with '-y', it does not change the root word, such as 'copying.'

  • We can add different suffixes to words that end in two consecutive consonants with no change in the suffix or the root word.

pump + -ing = pumping

sing + -er = singer

  • When the root word has more than one syllable and it ends in the letter 'l', the letter 'l' is usually doubled and then the suffix is added.

travel + -er = traveller

cancel + -ed = cancelled

  • When the suffix '-tion' is added to a root word ending in '-be', 'b' changes to 'p' and 'e' is removed before the suffix is added.

describe + -tion = description, subsribe + -tion = subscription

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