Return to Grammar: A Guide for ESL Students

Suffixes: Enhance Your Vocabulary with Word Endings

Have you ever marveled at how the addition of a few letters at the end of a word can completely alter its meaning? Enter the world of suffixes – those small yet powerful linguistic components that play a crucial role in shaping our language.

What are Suffixes?

At their core, suffixes are linguistic elements appended to the end of a word to modify its meaning or function. They serve as the finishing touches, adding layers of nuance and specificity to our vocabulary. Derived from a multitude of languages, including Latin, Greek, and Old English, suffixes enrich our language with their versatility and depth.

Common Suffixes and Examples

  1. -tion/-sion
    • Meaning: State or quality of.
    • Examples: Education, discussion, expansion.
  2. -able/-ible
    • Meaning: Capable of being.
    • Examples: Comfortable, visible, incredible.
  3. -er/-or
    • Meaning: One who performs an action.
    • Examples: Teacher, actor, writer.
  4. -ly
    • Meaning: In a certain manner.
    • Examples: Quickly, happily, sadly.
  5. -ment
    • Meaning: Action or process.
    • Examples: Movement, development, excitement.
  6. -ful
    • Meaning: Full of, characterized by.
    • Examples: Beautiful, careful, thankful.
  7. -less
    • Meaning: Without.
    • Examples: Fearless, endless, homeless.
  8. -ness
    • Meaning: State of being.
    • Examples: Happiness, kindness, darkness.
  9. -ity/-ty
    • Meaning: Quality or condition of.
    • Examples: Reality, equality, beauty.
  10. -ize/-ise
    • Meaning: To make or become.
    • Examples: Organize, realize, criticize.

Usage Tips

Understanding the proper usage of suffixes is essential for effective communication. Here are some tips to help you master them:

  • Pay attention to the part of speech: Suffixes can change the part of speech of a word (e.g., adding “-ly” to an adjective forms an adverb).
  • Consult dictionaries: When unsure about a suffix, consult reputable dictionaries to ensure accurate usage.

Benefits of Understanding Suffixes

Embracing suffixes isn’t just about expanding your vocabulary; it’s about unlocking a world of linguistic possibilities. Here’s why it matters:

  • Enhanced vocabulary comprehension: Knowing suffixes allows you to decipher the meanings of unfamiliar words by recognizing common patterns.
  • Formation of word families: Understanding suffixes helps you trace the etymology of words and establish connections within word families, fostering a deeper appreciation for language dynamics.


1 / 10

What is a suffix?

2 / 10

How does understanding suffixes enhance vocabulary comprehension?

3 / 10

Which suffix can change the part of speech of a word?

4 / 10

What is the meaning of the suffix "-ity/-ty"?

5 / 10

In which of the following words is the suffix "-er" used to indicate "one who performs an action"?

6 / 10

Which suffix means "without"?

7 / 10

What does the suffix "-ment" typically signify?

8 / 10

Which of the following words contains the suffix "-ly"?

9 / 10

Which suffix indicates "state or quality of"?

10 / 10

Where do suffixes commonly originate from?

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The average score is 80%


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