Suffix Examples And Rules - With Flashcards And Quiz

Suffixes are delightful! Let’s use them frequently!

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What Is a Suffix? 

A suffix is a set of letters that are attached to a root word. There are many different groups of letters that make suffixes, and they generally follow certain patterns. 

For example, take a look at the sentence above. There, “ful” gets added on to “delight.” Delight is a noun, but when you add the suffix -ful, you get an adjective: delightful.

Other nouns that follow this pattern are:

  • Beautiful, careful, and watchful.

The same goes for “frequently.” The base word frequent is an adjective, but when you add the suffix -ly, you get an adverb. Lots of adverbs have the -ly ending, such as;

  • Happily and sadly.

Sometimes a suffix changes the root word's grammatical function (or part of speech), and sometimes it changes the meaning entirely.

suffix examples

Why Are Suffixes Important? 

Suffixes can tell you a lot about a root word: they can help you understand what the root word means and how it’s acting in the sentence.

For example, the suffix can tell you if the root word is a noun or an adjective. Or, the suffix can tell you something about the root’s meaning. For instance, one suffix will tell you if something is an action, and another will tell you if the root is a belief or school of thought.

So, take a look at this suffixes list. You’ll get an idea of how suffixes work and the variety of suffixes in English.

Noun Suffixes

1) -al: process of something

recital, proposal, refusal, rehearsal

  • I went to Katerina’s piano recital. She played very well!

2) -ance/-ence: quality, condition, or state of something

appearance, accordance, maintenance, exuberance, hesitance

existence, eminence, preference

  • Helena could sense Richard’s hesitance as he held the pen to sign the contract.

3) -ee: a person who receives something

employee, payee, attendee, addressee, referee, refugee, trainee

  • Could you get the addresses of all the conference attendees? I want to send them a follow-up email.

4) -eer: a person involved with something

volunteer, mountaineer, engineer, profiteer

  • Judith is working as an engineer on the new bridge project.

5) -er/-or: a person who does something

employer, payer, trainer, teacher, helper, narrator, director, actor, protector

  • Did you see that new movie? I thought the director did a great job of capturing the spirit of the 1920s.

6) -ery: a business or occupation, or a group of things

bakery, brewery, cutlery, machinery, trickery

  • Have you been to Carlos’ warehouse? It’s full of all kinds of machinery.

7) -ism: school of thought, belief system, or theory

Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, nationalism, patriotism, environmentalism, stoicism, professionalism, ableism, racism, cynicism, Romanticism

  • I haven’t seen such patriotism since last year's Fourth of July parade.

8) -ist: a person who practices something or follows a specific school of thought

biologist, dentist, cyclist, artist, pianist, Taoist, Buddhist, Marxist, nationalist

  • This lane is only for cyclists. You need to use the other lane if you're driving a car.

9) -ty: the state, quality, or condition of something

activity, vivacity, equality, curiosity, tranquility, serenity, amity, agility, unity, liberty

  • Don’t you have any curiosity? I want to see what’s on the other side of that door!

10) -ment: a condition or result of something, a process

enjoyment, engagement, entertainment, development, agreement

  • If you are all in agreement, we can end this meeting.

11) -ness: a quality or state of being

fullness, emptiness, greatness, happiness, harshness, coolness

  • He felt great happiness when he saw his daughter getting married.

12) -sion/-tion/-xion: an action, process, or state of being

decision, expression, fusion, erosion, temptation, revolution, evolution, celebration, recreation, creation, complexion, flexion, axion

  • According to the expression on Fern’s face, she was not having a good day.

13) -ship: position held

courtship, partnership, friendship, internship, externship, membership

  • They entered into a partnership where Gabriel would buy the car, and Rachel would drive it.

14) -ty: a condition or quality of something

honesty, loyalty, cruelty, agility, acidity

  • I’m grateful for her honesty. She always tells me when I’m being silly.

Suffix Flashcards

Click each card to learn more.

Verb Suffixes

1) -ate: to make or become

complicate, regulate, cooperate, decorate, animate, concentrate, eradicate

  • Will you decorate your room or leave it as is?

2) -ed: past tense

walked, hurried, visited, roasted, cooked, dressed

  • He visited his grandmother every Sunday.

3) -en: to become

strengthen, weaken, enlighten, whiten, blacken, shorten, lengthen, lighten, darken

  • Can you shorten this hem? I’m tripping on it!

4) -ing: present participle or gerund

laughing, crying, jumping, hoping, eating, drinking

  • I hate all the crying at weddings. Why do people do that?

5) -ize(-ise in British English): to become

crystallize, memorize, recognize, prioritize

  • They will memorize the vocabulary for tomorrow’s test.

6) -fy: to become, make, or produce

codify, classify, satisfy, verify, amplify, rectify

  • Biologists classify animals and plants so that we can study them better.

Adjective Suffixes

1) -able/-ible: able to be or do something

capable, likable, fixable, agreeable, drinkable, mutable, portable, edible, flexible, credible, sensible

  • She’s the most sensible child I’ve ever met.

2) -al: about or pertaining to

seasonal, natural, regional, national, normal, personal, governmental

  • With global warming, seasonal changes are becoming normal.

3) -ant: connected to or tending toward

pliant, reliant, truant, brilliant

  • Molly is truly reliant on her mother for everything. She can’t do anything herself!

4) -ary: connected to or related to

confectionary, momentary, customary, uncomplimentary

  • Bert took a momentary glance backward, and then he continued walking.

5) -ese: coming from or related to

Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Javanese

  • I could eat a hundred Chinese dumplings because they’re so delicious.

6) -esque: like or similar to

picturesque, statuesque, novelesque

  • The couple stayed at a picturesque hotel in the mountains for their anniversary.

7) -est: superlative adjective

liveliest, shadiest, hottest, coolest, warmest, loudest, happiest

  • Did you see Margaux at the ceremony tonight? That was the happiest I’ve ever seen her.

8) -ful: being full of something

beautiful, doubtful, peaceful, helpful, delightful

  • I’m doubtful that you’ll be able to finish the essay tonight. You still have to write another 10 pages!

9) -i: belonging to a group or nationality

Pakistani, Yemeni, Mizrachi, Iraqi

  • Zina loves her mom’s Iraqi food.

10) -ian: belonging to a group or nationality

Ecuadorian, Arabian, Sumerian, Ethiopian, Egyptian, Russian

  • Those Sumerian tablets are thousands of years old!

11) -ic/-ical: being related to, similar to, or made of something

archaic, allergic, poetic, acerbic, acidic, basic

fantastical, lackadaisical, canonical, cynical, logical

  • George is allergic to pollen, but Fred is allergic to lactose.

12) -ish: being related to, having a bit of something, or having the character of

foolish, pinkish, bluish, fiendish, Swedish, lightish

  • When he felt ill, his skin had a bluish tinge.

13) -ive: have the nature or quality of something

creative, explosive, evocative, effusive, abusive

  • The door slammed with an explosive sound as if a bomb had gone off.

14) -less: not having something

worthless, helpless, hopeless, homeless, mirthless, useless

  • What a worthless seminar. I didn’t learn anything new!

15) -like: akin to, like

lifelike, childlike, godlike, warlike

  • The statue was so lifelike that Brian thought it was a real person.

16) -ous: having the nature or quality of something

disastrous, hideous, monstrous, famous, ferocious, dubious

  • The swamp monster had long claws and hideous teeth.

17) -y: full of, made of, or characterized by something; tending toward something

sleepy, happy, sappy, homey, springy, dirty, fruity, lazy

  • Cecil has such a homey apartment. I want to live there too!

Adverb Suffixes

1) -ly: how something is happening or being done

carefully, slowly, quickly, wisely, happily

  • She walked home so slowly that her parents sent out a search party to see if she was lost.

2) -ward(s): in a specific direction (either in space or time)

upward, downward, leftward, rightward, earthward, skyward

  • Move your hand downwards until you feel the latch. Then you can open the safe.

3) -wise: in a specific direction, in a specific manner, regarding

clockwise, counterclockwise, slantwise, otherwise, likewise, lengthwise

  • To make a paper crane, Tomoko first folded the paper in half lengthwise.

Click each card to learn more.

Suffix Quiz

Test your knowledge of suffixes before you go!

Drag the suffix to the corresponding word to form a new word.






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Lots of common English words have suffixes. So, once you start paying attention, you’ll notice patterns in everyday speech.

This will also help you understand words you’re not familiar with because suffixes can tell you what the word is doing in the sentence. They’re very useful words!

There are a lot more grammar points to learn, including a related topic – prefixes! So be sure to check out the other pages on this site for other great learning tools.

Grammar and Punctuation Worksheets