Learn English Suffixes
You find suffixes at the ends of words. Like prefixes, they are a rich source of information about a word. Have you ever seen blue or pink balloons at a baby shower? Some parents use colors to indicate the sex of their new baby. In the same way, some suffixes announce what part of speech a word is. Here are some examples.
“It’s a Noun”
The following suffixes are usually found at the end of nouns: -ance, -ation, -ness, -ism, -ment, -ship.
Beyond giving clues to the part of speech, suffixes also carry meaning. The endings -er, -or, -ist, or -yst are commonly added to words for people who perform certain tasks or activities. Examples include programmer, calculator, analyst, and abolitionist.
“It’s a Verb”
There are several suffixes associated with the meaning to make. By combining the baseactive with the suffix -ate, you create the word activate, which means to make active.
Other suffixes with this meaning are -ize, -ise, -ify, and -en. What verbs do you know that end with these suffixes?
“It’s an Adverb”
In the majority of cases, adverbs are formed by adding -ly to an adjective. For instance, beautiful becomes beautifully. If the adjective already ends with a y as in easy, you would replace the y with -ily to form the adverb easily. There is a special rule for adjectives ending in -able, -ible, or -le: replace the -e with -y. For most words ending in -ic (with the exception of public) add -ally.
“It’s an Adjective”
Brownish is a color strongly reminiscent of brown, but not quite brown. People have a lot of fun with -ish because it means similar. You may even hear someone use this suffix alone in response to a question. Sally and Peter are dating, aren’t they? …Ish! The slang use of the suffix means “something like that.”
-Al, -ar, -ed, -ic, -ical, and -ive signify having the quality of. Magnetic objects, for example, have qualities of magnets.
The -ous of dangerous means full of or like, while -less means without.
Do you ever feel disoriented, unhinged, or disarranged? If you used hints from the prefixes and suffixes in these words, you realized that they are synonyms of disoriented. Next time you encounter a tough word, don’t panic. Use those little building blocks to guess the meaning of the term. When you come across an unfamiliar affix, look up its meaning in a dictionary. Try to use the prefixes and suffixes in conversation and writing. In time, you will speak and write more effectively than ever before.