A suffix is a group of letters that we put after a word to make a new word. It modifies its meaning or changes the word into a different word class.
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The different noun suffixes
We use -sion to make nouns from certain verbs:
televise (verb) – television (noun)
The World Cup was televised to the whole world.
It is becoming more common to see 8K televisions.
revise (verb) – revision (noun)
We don’t like revising our return policy, but unfortunately, it is necessary.
Some students leave their revision until it is too late.
supervise (verb) – supervision (noun)
The manager is supervising the new workers on site.
Some supervision is needed if you want the cleaners to finish the work before the conference
We also use -tion to make nouns from certain verbs:
repeat (verb) – repetition (noun)
Would you mind repeating the directions?
There are people who believe that the secret to language learning lies in repetition.
relax (verb) – relaxation (noun)
You need to learn to relax. Try a relaxing lofi music.
My idea of relaxation is being waited on hand and foot.
separate (verb) – separation (noun)
You should separate the boxes into two stacks.
It is difficult for couples to endure separation.
We also use -ment to make nouns from certain verbs and adjectives:
improve (verb) – improvement (noun)
What are you doing to improve your English?
Tom has shown slow but consistent improvement since he joined the class at the beginning of the year.
govern (verb) – government (noun)
What makes you think it is easy to govern a country?
I don’t think our government is doing everything in its power to look after us.
merry (adjective) – merriment (noun)
Mary was a merry girl until her mother passed away.
These workers lead stressful lives; they need some good merriment every now and then.
We use -ness to make nouns from certain adjectives:
happy (adjective) – happiness (noun)
Are you happy to see your friend?
The key to happiness is doing as little as possible.
lazy (adjective) – laziness (noun)
Tom is an extremely lazy boy.
Tom’s laziness is driving me crazy!
sad (adjective) – sadness (noun)
How can one comfort a sad person?
I can see the sadness in their eyes.
We use -ity to make nouns from certain adjectives:
impossible (adjective) – impossibility (noun)
It is impossible for any person to be in two places at once.
The impossibility of the situation was too much to bear.
real (adjective) – reality (noun)
This coat is made of real fur.
It is time for us to face reality.
insane (adjective) – insanity (noun)
I think people who go sky-diving are insane.
I couldn’t understand what all the insanity was about.
-ence / -ance
We use both -ence and -ance to make nouns from certain adjectives and verbs:
important (adjective) – importance (noun)
It is important to take your passport when you go to the airport.
insistent (adjective) – insistence (noun)
The president is insistent that his government is doing everything it can to resolve the issue peacefully.
I went to the office party at my manager’s insistence.
disappear (verb) – disappearance (noun)
The girl disappeared on her way to school.
The parents couldn’t handle their son’s disappearance.
We -ship to make nouns from certain other nouns:
friend (noun) – friendship (noun)
Tom doesn’t have many friends.
How do you know when a friendship is real?
intern (noun) – internship (noun)
The intern couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the patient.
His internship lasted longer than that of his colleagues.
member (noun) – membership (noun)
He is a member of the local gym.
Your gym membership will automatically renew in 2 weeks if not canceled.
4 Rules to consider when adding a suffix
Some general rules to consider when adding suffixes…
- If a word ends in -e and the suffix begins with a vowel, drop the -e.
- Make -> making
- Bake -> baking
- Use the double consonant in a word with a single vowel + single consonant when adding a vowel-starting suffix.
- Sit -> sitting
- Eat -> eatting
- If a word ends in -y, change the “y” to “i” before adding certain suffixes.
- Happy -> happiness
- Lazy -> laziness
- If suffixes start with consonants, don’t change the base word.
- Hope -> hopeful
- Help -> helpful
Can you have two suffixes in a word?
Yes, some words can have more than one suffixes. Here are some examples.
- Base word: “help”
- Suffixes: “-less” and “-ness”
- Base word: “care”
- Suffixes: “-less” and “-ly”
- Base word: “beauty”
- Suffixes: “-ful” and “-ly”
Is a suffix always at the end?
Yes. A suffix is always added at the end of a word. If it’s at the beginning of the word, it’s called a prefix.
Can you have more than one suffixes in a word?
Yes. There are many words that have two suffixes, one prefix + one suffixes, one prefix + two suffixes. Please see the examples above.
How do you know if a word is a suffix?
If a portion of a word can be removed and the word is still meaningful, and the removed part modifies the meaning of the base, then it’s likely a suffix.