suffixes in english

40 Suffixes in English You’ll Be Glad You Learned

What if I told you there’s a shortcut to learning English?

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.

In this blog post, I’m giving you the rundown of how to learn suffixes in English (and potentially fast-track 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.

Get Ahead in the Fluency Race with These 40 Suffixes in English

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!

-able (capable)

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

-ize (become)

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

-cycle (circle)

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

-er (more)

bigger — more big

taller — more tall

-ess (female)

lioness — a female lion

actress — a female actor

-est (most)

smallest — the most small

cutest — the most cute

-ette (smaller)

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

-ible (capable)

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

-ish (characteristic)

childish — having the characteristics of a child

softish — having some characteristics of being soft

-ism (belief)

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

-less (without)

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

-log (speech)

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

-ship (position)

citizenship — the position as a citizen of a county

friendship — the position of being friends

hardship — a hard or difficult position

-th (quality)

depth — having the quality of being deep

warmth — having the quality of being warm

-ure (condition)

failure — the condition of having failed

closure — the condition of being closed

-ward (direction)

toward — in the direction of

backward — moving in the opposite direction of, or moving away

-wise (direction)

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

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

Learning doesn’t need to take time away from your entertainment. You can learn suffixes while you watch movies or TV shows, read books or even watch videos online.

Subtitles are very helpful for finding suffixes in movies, TV series and other types of videos. For example, the subtitles on the video-based language program FluentU are also interactive, so you can click on them to learn definitions of words with suffixes and see what other clips include them.

While reading books, magazines, comics and newspapers, try writing a list of words with suffixes. Then, see how many words have the same suffix to help you better understand its meaning.

Study using a list

Another good way to start learning suffixes is by looking at a list, like the one we have above.

Lists help you focus on important suffixes. Once you learn these, you’ll start noticing them in your daily English conversations.

Try memorizing this list of 40 suffixes and their meanings.

Plus, you can add to this list any time you hear a new suffix. Write it down, along with its meaning and some examples of words that include it.

You can also add example words and phrases to the list. 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.


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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