What are they?
A suffix is a word part placed at the end of a root wood that makes a new word. Suffixes are not words; however, they help to form longer words and can change or add to a word’s meaning. A suffix shows how a word is used in a sentence and what part of speech is formed.
Sometimes adding a suffix to a root word changes the word’s function. Consider the following example:
Example: inject (verb that means to force fluid into a passage)
Example: inject (root word) + ion (suffix) = injection (noun meaning liquid injected into the body with a hypodermic)
The suffixes “-d/-ed” change the tense of a word. When “-d/-ed” is added to the end of a verb, it changes from the present to past tense. Consider the following examples:
Example 1: live (present tense), lived (past tense)
Example 2: harden (present tense), hardened (past tense)
The suffixes “-s/-es” are used to indicate number. By attaching these suffixes to a singular noun, they turn into plural nouns. Consider the following examples:
Example 1: shoe (singular noun), shoes (plural noun)
Example 2: church (singular noun), churches (plural noun)
The suffix “-ing” changes the tense of all verbs from present tense to present participle (or gerund). Consider the following example:
Example: I heard my neighbor talking on the telephone.
The suffix “-ing” expresses the action of the verb.
Commonly used suffixes
- –able and – ible mean capable of, can be done
- –al and -ial mean having characteristics of, pertaining to
- –en means made of
- –er and -est mean comparative
- –ful means full of
- –ity and -ty mean state of
- –less means without
- –ness means state of, condition of
- –osis means condition
- –tude means state of
Rule #1: When the root word ends with a consonant and the suffix begins with a consonant, combine the root word and consonant with no spelling changes.
Example 1: doubt + ful = doubtful
Example 2: quick + ness = quickness
This holds true even when a prefix is added.
Example 3: dis (prefix) + respect (root word) + ful (suffix) = disrespectful
Rule #2: For one-syllable words that end in a single consonant, double the last letter when you add a suffix.
Example 4: fun + y = funny
Example 5: spin + ing = spinning
Rule #3: For one-syllable words that end with more than one consonant, the last letter is not doubled.
Example 6: jump + ing = jumping
Example 7: ring + ing = ringing
Rule #4: For words pronounced with the emphasis on the last syllable and end with a single consonant, double the last letter.
Example 8: begin + ing = beginning
Example 9: prefer + ed = preferred
Rule #5: For words that are pronounced without emphasis on the last syllable, do not double the last letter.
Example 10: benefit + ing = benefiting
Example 11: offer + ed = offered
Rule #6: If the letter before the final “y” is a consonant, change the “y” to an “i,” and add the suffix.
Example 12: lonely + ness = loneliness
Rule #7: When the first letter in the suffix is a vowel, drop the silent “e.”
Example 13: love + able = lovable
This is true when there is a prefix attached to the word, too.
Example 14: un (prefix) + love (root word) + able (suffix) = unlovable
Common exceptions to rule #7 include acreage, canoeing, hoeing, mileage and singeing.
Rule #8: When the first letter in a suffix is a consonant, keep the silent “e.”
Example 15: care + less = careless
This rule also applies to words with a prefix.
Example 16: un (prefix) + hope (root word) + ful (suffix) = unhopeful