- Parent Category: Advanced Skill Builders
- Category: Advanced Skill Builders: Grammar
- Written by Chris Cotter
What are suffixes?
Suffixes are groups of letters added after a word, which then creates new words. For example:
teacher - "er" means someone who does, so the new meaning is "someone who teaches"
sinful - "ful" means characterized by, so the new meaning is "someone characterized by sin"
There are many suffixes in English, some of which are quite common and some of which are used less frequently. In some cases, the same suffix may have more than one meaning, too. If you learn suffixes, your ability to comprehend new words will greatly improve. Unfortunately, it comes down to memorization.
Here's a list of many suffixes. The ones marked with the following symbol (O) are more often used, and should perhaps be studied first.
O -able or -ible
able to do; fit to do
debatable doable teachable
Finishing the report by noon is doable, I think.
-ance or -ence
used to form nouns from verbs; state or condition
assistance dependence difference
If you need assistance, please ask a store clerk.
O -d or -ed
used to form the past tense with verbs
dropped typed twisted
I twisted my ankle yesterday, and now I can hardly walk.
used to form verbs from adjectives
harden strengthen whiten
I regularly have the dentist whiten my teeth.
used to form comparatives
easier lighter slower
Which is easier, speaking in English or listening to English?
-er or -or
someone who does or is
actor swimmer teacher
Although I had wanted to become an actor, I became an acting teacher instead.
O -es or -s
used to form plural verbs
finishes passes plays
My daughter often plays in the yard with her friends.
to the greatest degree
darkest greatest warmest
Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player ever, isn't he?
characterized by; full of
bashful playful sinful
When my son turned two, he became quite bashful around adults.
-ise or -ize
cause to be or become; become like
dramatize hospitalize sterilize
After the accident, I was hospitalized for a few days.
someone who believes; someone who does
contortionist pianist sexist
My coworker is really sexist. I hate even talking with him!
-ity or -ty
used to express quality or state
complexity reality tasty
In reality, politicians rarely tell the truth.
childless homeless penniless
If the stock market continues to drop, I'm going to be penniless!
used to form adverbs from adjectives
carefully foolishly quickly
I foolishly told my boss the truth, so he fired me.
action or process, or the result of
advancement ailment movement
Unfortunately, advancement in my company is based on length of service and not skills.
condition; degree; quality; state
abruptness brightness darkness
The brightness of the car's headlights hurt my eyes.
O -sion or -tion
used to form nouns from verbs; expresses an action
comprehension orientation reaction
After orientation on the first day, new students are invited to a welcome party.