Affixes: What is a Suffix?

Understanding Suffixes

What are Suffixes?

Suffixes are groups of letters added to the end of a base word that can change the word’s meaning or function. They are an essential part of understanding and building vocabulary in the English language. Suffixes can alter the tense, form, or part of speech of a word. By learning about suffixes, you can unlock the meanings of many words and improve your overall language skills.

Common Suffixes and Their Meanings

1. -ful

The suffix “-ful” is used to show that something is full of a certain quality or characteristic. For example, adding “-ful” to “wonder” creates “wonderful,” meaning full of wonder or causing wonder.

2. -less

When you add “-less” to a word, it indicates the absence of something. For instance, “careless” means without care or not paying attention to details.

3. -able

The suffix “-able” is used to form adjectives that mean capable of or worthy of. For example, adding “-able” to “comfort” creates “comfortable,” meaning able to provide comfort.

How Suffixes Change Word Meaning

Suffixes can completely change the meaning of a word. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Happy (base word) + -ness (suffix) = Happiness
  • Friend + -ly = Friendly
  • Help + -ful = Helpful

By understanding how suffixes work, you can decipher unfamiliar words more easily and expand your vocabulary.

Practice Makes Perfect

Now, let’s practice adding suffixes to base words:

  1. Create the word Beautiful by adding the appropriate suffix to beauty.
  2. What is the word formed by adding -ment to develop?

Exploring More Suffixes

4. -er

The suffix “-er” is often used to indicate a person or thing that performs a particular action or has a particular quality. For example, “teacher” refers to someone who teaches.

5. -tion

When you add “-tion” to a verb, it forms a noun indicating the action or process of the verb. For instance, “celebrate” becomes “celebration” when the suffix “-tion” is added.

Putting It All Together

Suffixes play a crucial role in expanding your vocabulary and understanding the nuances of language. By mastering suffixes, you can decode complex words and express yourself more effectively. Practice identifying and using suffixes to enhance your language skills and become a more proficient communicator.

Additional Examples of Suffixes

Let’s explore more examples of suffixes to further enhance your understanding:

1. -ing

The suffix “-ing” is commonly used to form present participles of verbs. For example, “run” becomes “running” when the suffix “-ing” is added.

2. -ify

Adding the suffix “-ify” to a noun or adjective forms a verb that means to make or become. For instance, “beautify” means to make beautiful.

3. -ment

The suffix “-ment” is used to form nouns indicating the result or product of an action. For example, “enjoy” becomes “enjoyment” when the suffix “-ment” is added.

4. -ize

When you add the suffix “-ize” to a noun or adjective, it forms a verb that means to treat or transform in a certain way. For instance, “modern” becomes “modernize” when the suffix “-ize” is added.

5. -ful

In addition to indicating full of a certain quality, the suffix “-ful” can also mean characterized by or having. For example, “grace” + “-ful” = “graceful,” meaning characterized by grace.

6. -hood

The suffix “-hood” is used to indicate a state or condition of being. For instance, “child” becomes “childhood” when the suffix “-hood” is added.

7. -ize

The suffix “-ize” can also mean to become. For example, “public” + “-ize” = “publicize,” meaning to make something public.

Examples of Using Suffixes in Sentences

Let’s see how these suffixes can be used in sentences to provide context and clarity:

1. -ing

  • Base Word: Run
  • Sentence: She was running late for the meeting.

2. -ify

  • Base Word: Beauty
  • Sentence: The interior designer sought to beautify the living room with elegant decor.

3. -ment

  • Base Word: Enjoy
  • Sentence: His enjoyment of music led him to pursue a career in the industry.

4. -ize

  • Base Word: Modern
  • Sentence: The company aimed to modernize its infrastructure to keep up with technological advancements.

5. -ful

  • Base Word: Grace
  • Sentence: Her graceful movements on stage captivated the audience.

6. -hood

  • Base Word: Child
  • Sentence: Growing up in a nurturing childhood environment can have a lasting impact on a person.

7. -ize

  • Base Word: Public
  • Sentence: The organization decided to publicize the event to attract a larger audience.

By incorporating these suffixes into sentences, you can see how they modify the base words to convey specific meanings or functions. Practice using suffixes in context to strengthen your language skills and enhance your ability to communicate effectively.

By exploring a variety of suffixes and their meanings, you can continue to expand your vocabulary and grasp the intricacies of word formation in the English language. Practice identifying and using different suffixes to become more proficient in your language skills.


In conclusion, suffixes are important linguistic tools that can transform the meaning and function of words. By studying suffixes and their meanings, you can deepen your understanding of the English language and become a more versatile communicator. Keep exploring different suffixes and practicing their usage to enhance your language proficiency.

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