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Suffixes come at the end of a word. They show whether the word is a verb, noun, adjective, or adverb. Learning these word-endings can help you recognize a noun, adjective, verb, or adverb.

Noun Suffixes

These are common endings for nouns. If you see these endings on a word, then you know it must be a noun.

-dom at the end of a word means:

  • state or condition
  • domain, position, rank
  • a group with position, office, or rank
wisdom (n): wise+dom means the state of understanding what is good, right and lasting.
kingdom (n): king+dom means the domain or area belonging to a king.
  • -ity at the end of a word means:
    • condition or quality of __________
    capability (n): capable+ity means the condition of being capable.
    flexibility (n): flexible+ity means the quality of being flexible.
  • -ment at the end of a word means:
    • act of __________
    • state of __________
    • result of __________
    contentment (n): content+ment means the state of being satisfied (content).
  • -sion, -tion at the end of a word means:
    • act of __________
    • state of __________
    celebration (n): celebrate+tion means the act of celebrating.
  • -ness at the end of a word means:
    • state of __________
    toughness (n): tough+ness means the state of being tough.
  • -ance, -ence at the end of a word means:
    • act of __________
    • state of __________
    • quality of __________
    assistance (n): assist+ance means act of giving help.
  • -er, -or at the end of a word means:
    • one who __________
    • that which __________
    fighter (n): fight+er means one who fights.
    actor (n): act+or means one who acts.
  • -ist at the end of a word also means:
    • one who __________
    • that which __________
    violinist (n): violin+ist means one who plays the violin.
  • Adjective Suffixes

    These are common word endings for adjectives. If you see these ending at the end of a word, you can be certain it is an adjective.

    • -ive at the end of a word means:
      • doing or tending toward doing some action.
      extensive (adj): extend+ive means doing something large in range or amount.
      selective (adj): select+ive means tending to select.
    • -en at the end of a word means:
      • made of __________. (Note: We have also seen -en at the end of a verb. There it means to make __________.)
      wooden (adj): wood+en means made of wood.
    • -ic at the end of a word means:
      • characteristic of __________.
      heroic (adj): hero+ic means characteristic of a hero.
      poetic (adj): poet+ic means characteristic of (or like) poets or poetry.
    • -al, when making an adjective at the end of a word, means:
      • relating to __________.
      financial (adj): finance+al means relating to finance. (Finance means money.)
      manual (adj): manu+al means relating to the hand. (Manus means hand in Latin.)
    • -able at the end of a word means:
      • able __________.
      • can __________.
      • giving __________.
      portable (adj): port+able means can be carried; able to be carried.
      pleasurable (adj): pleasure+able means giving pleasure.
    • -y at the end of a word means:
      • having __________.
      hairy (adj): hair+y means having hair (a lot of hair).
      rainy (adj): rain+y means having rain.
    • -ous at the end of a word means:
      • full of __________.
      • having __________.
      mysterious (adj): mystery+ous means full of mystery.
    • -ful at the end of a word means:
      • full of __________.
      • having __________.
      • Note: The suffix -ful is always spelled with one l; the word “full” has two.
      hopeful (adj): hope+ful means full of hope.
      beautiful (adj): beauty+ful means full of beauty.
    • -less at the end of a word means:
      • without __________.
      powerless (adj): power+less means without power.
      homeless (adj): home+less means without a home.

    Verb Suffixes

    These are common endings for verbs. If you see these endings on a word, then the word is most likely a verb.

    • -en at the end of a word means:
      • to make __________.
      brighten (v): bright+en means to make bright.
      soften (v): soft+en means to make soft.
    • -ize at the end of a word means:
      • to make __________.
      publicize (v): public+ize means to make public or to make the public aware of.
    • -ate at the end of a word means:
      • to make, have, or be characterized by __________.
      activate (v): active+ate means to make active.
      differentiate (v): different+ate means to make or show a difference.
    • -ify, -fy at the end of a word means:
      • to cause to become
      • to make
      simplify (v): simple+ify means to make simple or simpler.

    Adverb Suffixes

    “-ly” is the most common ending for an adverb. If you see this ending in a word, you can be fairly certain that it is an adverb. However, keep in mind that occasionally it will make an adjective.

    From “Working on Words,” by John F. Canney, J. Philip Goldberg, and Diane D. Conner

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