Suffix: List of 26 Important Suffixes in English for ESL Students

In this article, we will cover the different types of suffixes, including inflectional and derivational suffixes, and their functions. We will also delve into the rules and types of suffixes, including how they can be used to change the grammar, word type, or meaning of a base word. Additionally, we will provide examples of how suffixes can be used for verb conjugation, pluralization, possessive form, reflexive pronoun, comparatives, superlatives, and more.


A suffix is a group of letters that is added to the end of a word to change its meaning or function. For example, adding the suffix “-able” to the word “read” creates the word “readable,” which means that something can be read. Suffixes can be added to nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs to create new words or modify existing ones.

List of Suffixes

Suffixes can change the tense, number, or person of a verb. For example, adding “-ed” to the end of the verb “walk” creates the past tense form “walked.” Similarly, adding “-s” to the end of the noun “cat” creates the plural form “cats.”

Suffixes can also change the meaning of a word. For example, adding “-ful” to the noun “beauty” creates the adjective “beautiful,” which means that something is full of beauty. Similarly, adding “-ness” to the adjective “happy” creates the noun “happiness,” which means the state of being happy.

It’s important to note that not all words can have suffixes added to them. Some words have roots that cannot be modified, or adding a suffix would change the meaning of the word entirely.

Common Suffixes

Below is the useful list of suffixes plus meaning and examples you should know.

Noun Suffixes

1. -er

  • Meaning: A person
  • Words: helper, teacher, preacher, dancer
  • Example sentence: You’d better go and explain to the teacher.

2. -or

  • Meaning: A person who is something
  • Words: distributor, investigator, translator, conductor
  • Example sentence: The eastern district distributor road is part of the relief road system around the city of Leicester.

3. -ment

  • Meaning: The action or result of
  • Words: movement, retirement, abandonment, establishment
  • Example sentence: His work as a historian brought him into conflict with the political establishment.

4. -ness

  • Meaning: A state or quality
  • Words: fondness, awareness, kindness, darkness
  • Example sentence: The novel displayed Rolfe’s fondness for neologism, verbal sumptuousness, and quirky spelling in its best light.
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5. –ion

  • Meaning: A process, state, or result
  • Words: decorationcelebration, opinion, decision, revision
  • Example sentence: We announced a decision formally recognizing the new government.

6. –age

  • Meaning: A process, action, or result
  • Words: wreckage, breakage, passage
  • Example sentence: Investigators are searching the wreckage of the plane to try and find the cause of the tragedy.

7. –ance

  • Meaning: An action or state
  • Words: importancehindrance, tenancy
  • Example sentence: Psychological and sociological studies were emphasizing the importance of the family.

8. -ee

  • Meaning: A person
  • Words: refereeassigneegrantee, lessee
  • Example sentence: Every buyer, lessee, mortgagee of registered land should search shortly before completion.

9. -ence

  • Meaning: An action or state
  • Words: difference, preference, existence, reference
  • Example sentence: The difference between the internet and reality is so incredible.

10. –ery

  • Meaning: A type or place of work
  • Words: bakery, brewery, creamery, machinery, slavery
  • Example sentence: She followed her nose, turning into a passage which led to the back of a small bakery.

11. –ess

  • Meaning: Makes a feminine form
  • Words: waitress, actress
  • Example sentence: The manager of the restaurant has trained the waitress to serve correctly at the table.

12. -ism

  • Meaning: A belief or condition
  • Words: Judaism, tourism, racism, socialism, optimism, realism, criticism 
  • Example sentence: His comments were misinterpreted as a criticism of the project.

Adjective Suffixes

1. -able

  • Meaning: Able to be
  • Words: inflatablepreventable, adaptable, predictable
  • Example sentence: The inflatable cushion not only has a simple structure and low cost, but also is safe, and can bring great interest to children.

2. -ant

  • Meaning: Inclined to or tending to
  • Words: vigilant, defiant, brilliant, reliant
  • Example sentence: He warned the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious.

3. -ful

  • Meaning: Full of or notable of
  • Words: grateful, beautifulwonderful, fanciful
  • Example sentence: We would be grateful for any information you can give us.

4. -ous

  • Meaning: Having qualities of
  • Words: joyoushumorous, fabulous
  • Example sentence: Her fabulous recipes will delight anyone who loves chocolate.

5. -less

  • Meaning: Without
  • Words: hopeless, faultless, fearless, restless
  • Example sentence: He has been very restless all day and he awoke nearly all last night.

6. -ible

  • Meaning: Ability
  • Words: flexibleaccessiblecollapsible, credible
  • Example sentence: Our plans need to be flexible enough to cater to the needs of everyone.

7. -like

  • Meaning: Similar to, like
  • Words: lifelike, ladylike, childlike
  • Example sentence: I hate to be blunt, Frankie, but she just didn’t strike me as being very ladylike.
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8. -some

  • Meaning: A tendency to
  • Words: quarrelsome, bothersome, troublesome, awesome
  • Example sentence: The boy is quarrelsome and ready to fight at the drop of a hat.

9. -ish

  • Meaning: A little
  • Words: greenish, stylish, reddish, foolish, childish
  • Example sentence: This silk scarf is the perfect accessory for stylish summer evenings.

Verb Suffixes

1. -en

  • Meaning: Become
  • Words: soften, fasten, lengthen, strengthen
  • Example sentence: The new proposals were intended to soften the impact of the reformed tax system.

2. –ing

  • Meaning: Verb form/present participle of an action
  • Words: laughing, swimming, driving, writing
  • Example sentence: It is difficult for us to refrain from laughing when we are seeing a comedy.

Adverb Suffixes

1. -ly

  • Meaning: In a manner
  • Words: quickly, slowly, easily, lovely
  • Example sentence: She had a lovely face.

2. -ward

  • Meaning: Shows direction
  • Words: forward, backward, toward, upward
  • Example sentence: We look forward to, our future.

3. -ways

  • Meaning: Shows direction
  • Words: sideways, edgeways, lengthways, slantways
  • Example sentence: The car skidded and slewed sideways.

Learn more about common prefixes in English.

Types of Suffixes

In English grammar, there are two primary types of suffixes: derivational suffixes and inflectional suffixes. Each type of suffix has a unique function and can change the meaning or grammatical behavior of a word.

Derivational Suffixes

Derivational suffixes are added to the end of a word to create a new word with a different meaning or part of speech. For example, adding the suffix “-er” to the noun “teach” creates the verb “teacher,” which means “to give instruction.” Some common derivational suffixes include:

Suffix Example Word New Word
-able teach teachable
-er teach teacher
-ish child childish
-ment govern government
-ness dark darkness
-ous humor humorous

Inflectional Suffixes

Inflectional suffixes are added to the end of a word to indicate its grammatical function, such as tense, number, or case. Unlike derivational suffixes, inflectional suffixes do not change the meaning or part of speech of a word. Some common inflectional suffixes include:

Suffix Example Word Inflected Word
-s dog dogs
-ed walk walked
-ing play playing
-er fast faster
-est small smallest
-‘s cat cat’s

It is important to note that not all words can take inflectional suffixes. For example, the word “go” cannot be inflected with “-s” to indicate plurality.

Usage of Suffixes

In Grammar

In grammar, suffixes are used to change the tense, number, and person of verbs. For example, adding -s or -es to a verb shows that it’s third person, singular, and present tense. Adding -ed to a verb shows that it’s past tense.

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Suffixes are also used to change the form of adjectives and adverbs. For instance, adding -er to an adjective forms a comparative, while adding -est forms a superlative. Similarly, adding -ly to an adjective forms an adverb.

In Word Formation

In word formation, suffixes are used to create new words or change the meaning of existing words. For example, adding -ful to a noun creates an adjective that means “full of” or “having a lot of.” Adding -ment to a verb creates a noun that means “the act of” or “the result of” the verb.

There are two types of suffixes: vowel suffixes and consonant suffixes. Vowel suffixes are added to the end of a word and usually change the word’s meaning or function. Consonant suffixes are added to the end of a word and usually change the word’s spelling and pronunciation.

It’s essential to understand the meaning and function of suffixes to improve your English vocabulary and grammar. By learning common suffixes, you can easily recognize and understand new words, making it easier to communicate effectively in English.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common noun suffixes?

Noun suffixes are added to the end of a word to change it into a noun. Some common noun suffixes include -ment, -ness, -ity, -tion, and -ance. For example, “enjoyment,” “happiness,” “creativity,” “education,” and “importance” are all words that have a noun suffix.

What are some examples of verb suffixes?

Verb suffixes are added to the end of a word to change it into a verb. Some common verb suffixes include -ize, -ate, -en, and -ify. For example, “realize,” “activate,” “strengthen,” and “simplify” are all words that have a verb suffix.

What are some common adverb suffixes?

Adverb suffixes are added to the end of a word to change it into an adverb. Some common adverb suffixes include -ly, -ward, and -wise. For example, “quickly,” “forward,” and “clockwise” are all words that have an adverb suffix.

What are some examples of suffixes used in names?

Suffixes can also be used in names to indicate a person’s status, profession, or family history. Some common name suffixes include -son, -sen, -berg, and -man. For example, “Johnson,” “Jensen,” “Lindberg,” and “Freeman” are all surnames that have a suffix.

Last Updated on November 16, 2023

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