Suffixes in the English Language – Part One

Suffixes are common in the English language and are similar to prefixes. Suffixes are basically a group of letters placed at the end of a word, are also known as a root word. When suffixes are added to the root word, the meaning of the root word changes. Let’s explore the world of suffixes more in this article!

SUFFIXES IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

THE ‘ER’ SUFFIX

If you have already read the article about Comparisons and Superlatives, you will be familiar with the ‘er’ suffix.

Example 1

  • ‘Today, the athlete, who wore the blue trainers, ran fast.’
Suffixes in the English Language - Part One
Suffixes in the English Language – Part One

This sentence tells us that the athlete ran quickly.

  • ‘Today, the athlete, who wore the blue trainers, ran faster.’

The ‘er’ suffix alters the meaning of the word ‘fast‘. The word ‘fast’ now becomes a word used to compare. It tells us that the athlete was quicker than before.

Example 2

  • ‘Jack jumped high. Stephanie jumped high too.’

This sentence tells us that both Jack and Stephanie jumped quite high.

  • ‘Jack jumped higher than Stephanie.’

Now that the ‘er’ suffix has been placed at the end of the word ‘high‘, the reader or listener knows who jumped higher.

Example 3

  • ‘Jodie’s painting was bright.’

To alter the meaning of the sentence, we could add the letters ‘er’ suffix to the adjective ‘bright‘.

  • ‘Jodie’s painting was brighter.

Table 1

Here are some more words with the ‘er’ suffix.

Original word Suffix New Word New Meaning
deep er deeper more deep
green er greener more green
long er longer more long
quick er quicker more quick
small er smaller more small
straight er straighter more straight
strong er stronger more strength
sweet er sweeter more sweet
Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English
Activity 1

The sentences below are incomplete. Fill in the gaps with a word using the ‘er’ suffix. Use Table 1 to help you.

  • The water was … than I expected.
  • Larry’s car was … than Mary’s car.
  • Chris’ cake was … than mine.
  • My sister has more muscles and she is … than me.

THE ‘OUS’ PREFIX

Example 4

  • ‘Brian showed a lot of courage during the exercise challenge.’

This sentence tells us that Brian has some courage.

  • ‘Brian was courageous during the exercise challenge.’

Now the sentence tells us that Brian was very brave.

MINOR EXCEPTIONS

Sometimes when a suffix is added to a root word the spelling of the root word changes slightly.

Example 5

  • ‘Monday was a disaster.’
  • ‘Monday was disastrous.’

When adding a suffix to the word ‘disaster’ we swap the letter combination ‘er’ for the ‘ous’ suffix.

Example 6

  • ‘The police officers went to the crime scene with caution.’
  • ‘The police officers were cautious when they went to the crime scene.’

In this case, the letter ‘n’ is replaced with the suffix ‘ious’.

Table 2

Here are some more words with the ‘ous’ suffix.

Original word Suffix New Word New Meaning
adventure ous adventurous miraculous (notice the e is replaced by the ‘ous’ suffix) full of adventure
danger ous dangerous full of danger
glamour ous glamourous full of glamour
humour ous humorous (notice the first ‘u’ is no longer needed) full of humour
joy ous joyful full of joy
malice ous malicious (notice the e is replaced by the letter ‘I’ and the ‘ous’ suffix) full of malice
miracle ous miraculous (notice the e is replaced by the ‘ous’ suffix) full of miracles
wonder ous wonderous full of wonder

Take note: every word that ends with the letter combination ‘ous’ may not have a suffix attached to it. The word ‘fabulous’ has the letter combination ‘ous’ but it does not belong to the ’ous’ suffix group. This is because without the ‘ous’ letter combination, the word ‘fabulous’ does not make sense.

 

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English
Activity 2

The sentences below are not finished. Fill in the gaps with a word with the ‘ous’ suffix. Use Table 2 to help you.

  • The sea was wild and ….
  • Felicity, the actress, always wore a … outfit.
  • The comedian was ….

THE ‘FUL’ SUFFIX

Example 7

  • ‘The model had beauty.’

The sentence above showed that the model was attractive.

  • ‘The model was beautiful.’

Now the sentence means that the model was very attractive.

Example 8

  • ‘The superhero had power.’
Suffixes in the English Language - Part One
Suffixes in the English Language – Part One

This sentence does not make the superhero sound very strong.

  • ‘The superhero was powerful.’

Now the reader or listener knows that he is a strong superhero.

Table 3

Here are some more words with the ‘ful’ suffix.

Original word Suffix New Word New Meaning
boast ful boastful full of boasting
care ful careful full of care
dread ful dreadful full of dread
fear ful fearful full of fear
help ful helpful good at helping
peace ful peaceful full of peace
power ful powerful full of power
thought ful thoughtful full of thought

 

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English
Activity 3

The sentences below are incorrect. Rewrite the sentences and edit the phrases in bold using an ‘ous’, ‘ful’ or ‘er’ word.

  • The park was full of peace.
  • The shark was full of malice.
  • Melissa’s speech was long than Heidi’s.
  • Johnny’s journey was full of dread.
  • Andy was very full of adventure.

RECAP

This article looked some of the suffixes used in the English language. Suffixes are similar to prefixes because they can be attached to root words. When they are attached, they alter the meaning of the original word. For more about prefixes take a look at the article Prefixes in the English Language and Prefixes in the English Language Part Two.

Here are the answers to the activities in the article. Feel free to write your answers in the comments section.

Activity 1
  • The water was deeper than I expected.
  • Larry’s car was smaller than Mary’s car.
  • Chris’ cake was sweeter than mine.
  • My sister has more muscles and she is stronger than me.
Activity 2
  • The sea was wild and dangerous.
  • Felicity, the actress, always wore a glamorous outfit.
  • The comedian was humorous.
Activity 3

There are many possible answers for this activity. Here are a few to guide you.

  • The park was peaceful.
  • The shark was malicious.
  • Melissa’s speech was longer than Heidi’s.
  • Johnny’s journey was dreadful.
  • Andy was very adventurous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *