My sister and I used to race each other home from school, and she always won.
Until one day, I found a shortcut.
She was way ahead when I spotted a side street. I took it and found out that it led right to our house, saving me several minutes of running.
What if I told you there’s a shortcut to learning English, too?
Suffixes are letters added to the end of a word to change its meaning. By learning suffixes, you can learn the meaning of hundreds of new words.
Sound like a good way to learn English? It is!
In this blog post, I’m giving you the rundown of how to start learning suffixes in English (and potentially speed up your journey to English language mastery!).
English Suffixes: What Are They?
Did you know that many English words can be broken down into roots, prefixes and suffixes?
A root word is defined as a word that exists on its own but can also be modified by the addition of a prefix or suffix (or sometimes both).
A prefix is a letter or group of letters that are added to the beginning of a root word in order to change its meaning.
Finally, a suffix is a letter or group of letters added to the end of a root word.
In this post, we’ll be talking about the ways suffixes affect the meaning of a word.
Why should you bother learning prefixes and suffixes?
These groups of letters can give you insight into hundreds of new vocabulary words.
For example, the suffix -ful means “full.” Therefore, the word joyful means full of joy, the word hopeful means full of hope, and so on.
However, it’s important to remember that not every word ending in a group of letters is using them as a suffix. For example, the words Batman and can use the letters “an” at the end, but “an” isn’t a suffix for these words. With some practice, you will start to learn the difference and become better at spotting which word endings are acting as suffixes.
There are hundreds of examples like these, so keep reading to find a list of common suffixes and their meanings.
Fun Ways to Learn Suffixes in English
Learning suffixes may seem complicated and difficult at first glance. Not to mention, trying to learn 40 of them at once can be intimidating!
But don’t get discouraged.
We’ve gathered some resources to help you study without feeling overwhelmed. Here are some fun study tips to get you learning suffixes in English with ease.
Study with Online Quizzes
One great way to study suffixes is by taking an online quiz. And there are several you can choose from!
- Skillswise, created by BBC, has quizzes for different levels of learning. You can start with their beginner quizzes and work your way up to the more advanced levels. These quizzes cover suffixes but also help you study prefixes and root words.
- Another online site for quizzes is ELTbase. Fill in the blank with the correct suffix. This quiz is for more advanced learners, but it’s a great way to learn the meanings of different suffixes and to see how much you’ve already learned.
- SoftSchools also has a fill-in-the-blank suffix quiz. This online quiz is straightforward and simple. It’s a great way to practice suffixes you’ve learned and to see how they’re used in common English words.
Study Through Entertainment
If you want to make entertainment your primary resource for learning English, FluentU is a great place to start. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into language learning experiences.
While you’re watching movies and videos on FluentU, try writing down words that have suffixes. At first, you may only catch one or two. But as you keep studying, you’ll be able to identify many more. Following along with FluentU’s interactive subtitles will help with this.
You can also find suffixes while reading books, magazines, comics and newspapers.
Try writing a list of words you find with suffixes. Then, see how many words have the same suffix to help you better understand its meaning (and learn new words!).
Study Using a List
Another good way to start learning suffixes is by looking at a list.
Lists help you focus on important suffixes. Once you learn these, you’ll start noticing them in your daily English conversations.
Try memorizing the list of 40 suffixes and their meanings we’ve compiled below.
Plus, you can add to this list any time you hear a new suffix. Write it down, its meaning and some examples of words that include it.
You can also add example words and phrases to the list we’ve provided below. By taking note of common words with suffixes, you’ll become even more familiar with their definitions and you’ll start noticing them in other words, too.
40 Suffixes in English You’ll Be Glad You Learned
Let’s get started with some of the most common suffixes in English.
The most exciting part is that studying this list will help you quickly learn hundreds of new vocabulary words.
Something important to note about suffixes is that sometimes, multiple suffixes have the same meanings. For example, -ible and -able both mean “capable.” This is because the English language has adopted different words and suffixes from other languages over time.
No need to worry about this, though. With some practice, you’ll have these simple suffixes down sooner than you think!
adaptable — capable of adapting
noticeable — capable of being noticed
-ac (related to)
cardiac — related to the heart (“cardio” is short for cardiovascular, which means “related to the heart”)
maniac — related to mania
civilize — to become civil
humanize — to become human
socialize — to become social
-age (action; the process of)
passage — the action of passing through
marriage — the process of being married
-al (act; the process of)
refusal — the act of refusing.
denial — the process of denying.
-an (relating or belonging to)
American — from or belonging to the continent of America or the United States
Mathematician — related to or belonging to the field of mathematics
-ant (a person who)
servant — a person who serves
assistant — a person who assists
-ary (relating to)
solitary — relating to solitude
disciplinary — relating to discipline
-cracy (power or rule)
democracy — rule by the entire population
aristocracy — the highest class, those in power
bicycle — a vehicle with two circular wheels
recycle — a circle of reusing resources
-dom (place; state of being)
kingdom — the place where the king rules
boredom — in a state of being bored
freedom — a state of being free
-eer (engaged or involved in)
volunteer — engaged in voluntary activities
engineer — a person involved in designing engines and machines
-en (to become)
soften — to become soft
loosen — to become loose
-er (person who)
carpenter — a person who does carpentry
server — a person who serves
teacher — a person who teaches
bigger — more big
taller — more tall
lioness — a female lion
actress — a female actor
smallest — the most small
cutest — the most cute
kitchenette — a small or partial kitchen
cigarette — similar to a cigar, but smaller
-ful (full of; having)
joyful — full of joy
careful — having care
wonderful — having the ability to inspire wonder
-hood (state of)
motherhood — the state of being a mother
childhood —the state of being a child
credible — capable of receiving credit
terrible — capable of causing terror
-ic (relating to)
poetic — relating to poetry
photographic — relating to photography
-ify (make or become)
simplify — to make simple
solidify — to make solid
-ion (the action of)
celebration — the action of celebrating
completion — the action of completing or having completed
childish — having the characteristics of a child
softish — having some characteristics of being soft
communism — belief in a communal society
theism — belief in a god or gods
-ity (having the quality of)
activity — having the quality of being active
simplicity — having the quality of being simple
meaningless — without meaning
careless — without care
hopeless — without hope
-like (characteristics or similarities to)
lifelike — sharing similarities to something alive
childlike — having some characteristics of a child
dialog — speech between two people
-ment (the action or result of)
enchantment — the result of enchanting
argument — the action of arguing
movement — the action of moving
-ness (state of being)
sickness — state of being sick
gentleness — state of being gentle
-or (person who)
actor — a person who acts
narrator — a person who narrates
-ous (having the qualities of)
cautious — having qualities of caution
generous — having qualities of generosity
citizenship — the position as a citizen of a county
friendship — the position of being friends
hardship — a hard or difficult position
depth — having the quality of being deep
warmth — having the quality of being warm
failure — the condition of having failed
closure — the condition of being closed
toward — in the direction of
backward — moving in the opposite direction of, or moving away
clockwise — in the direction the clock moves
lengthwise — in the direction of the length, not width
-y (made up or characterized by)
fruity — made up of fruit or a fruit flavor
sticky — characterized by the way it sticks
Do you feel confident in your English suffixes yet? Keep practicing and start listening for suffixes in conversations, movies and books.
This list should help you master a few of the most common suffixes in English. Keep adding to it and in no time, you’ll be amazed by how many new words you can understand!
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