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A letter or a syllable placed after a word to form a new word is called a suffix. Some suffixes are s, es, ed, ing, er, est, ly, ful, able, ible, ment, ive, ance, ence, ion, tion, ition, ation, sion, ous, ious, less, and al. Sometimes a word will have two suffixes. For example, respectfully has the two suffixes ful and ly added to the root word respect.

There are two kinds of suffixes, those that begin with a vowel and those that begin with a consonant. As usual, the spelling problems occur with the vowels:

Vowel Suffixes Constant Suffixes
- - - age - - -ist - - - ness - - - cess
- - - ant - - - ish - - -less - - -ment
- - -ance - - -ing - - -ly - - -ty
- - - al - - -ar - - -ful - - -ry
- - -ism - - -o - - -hood - - -ward
- - -able - - -on - - -wise
- - -an - - -ous
- - - a - - -or
- - -es - - -ual
- - -ed - - -unt
- - -er - - -um
- - -est - - -us
- - -y - - -ive

No normal English words end with the letter v. A final /v/ is always spelled with ve, no matter what the preceding vowel sound may be:

ed and ing:
  • Many words are formed by adding ed and ing without any change (furnish - furnished - furnishing).
  • Words ending in a silent e drop the e before adding ed and ing (move - moved - moving). The silent e is no longer needed to make the preceding vowel long as the incoming vowel will do the trick.

ride - riding
cure - curable
use - usual
age - aging
fame - famous
force - forcing
refuse - refusal
slice - slicing
pure - purity
ice - icicle
nose - nosy
convince - convincing
globe - global
race - racist
pole - polar
offense - offensive

Normally you drop a silent e before adding a vowel suffix. However, if the word ends in -ce or -ge and the incoming vowel is an a, o, or u, you cannot cavalierly toss out that silent e. It is not useless: it is keeping its left-hand letter soft, and your a, o, or u will not do that. Thus:
manage - manageable
peace - peaceable
courage - courageous
revenge - vengeance
surge - surgeon
change - changeable
notice - noticeable
outrage - outrageous

Words ending in a consonant and y change the y to i before adding ed, but do not make any change before adding ing (deny - denied - denying).

body - bodily
marry - marriage
many - manifold
family - familiar
happy - happiness
puppy - puppies
beauty - beautiful
vary - various
company - companion
fury - furious
plenty - plentiful
merry - merriment

Words ending in a vowel and y add ed and ing without making any other change (delay - delayed - delaying).

Adding ‘er’ or ‘est’:
  • If the adjective ends in y change the y to an I and add er or est.
    E.g. happy - happier, happiest
  • If the adjective ends in e remove e and add er or est.
    E.g. late – later, latest
  • If the adjective consists consonant + vowel + consonant double the last letter and add er or est.
    E.g. hot – hotter, hottest

    Note: adjectives ending in -l are regular, except: cruel > crueller > cruellest
Adding consonant suffixes is easy. You just add them. (Of course you must change a final y to i before you add any suffix.)
peace - peaceful
harm - harmless
age - ageless
pity - pitiful
child - childhood
rifle - riflery

Adding -ly:
  • If the adjective ends in ll add y. For example full – fully.
  • If the adjective ends in consonant + le remove the final e and add y.
    E.g. terrible – terribly
  • If the adjective ends in y remove y and add ily.
    E.g. happy – happily
    Note: 1-syllable adjectives ending in -y are regular, except: day > daily and gay > gaily
Using -le
Words ending in -le, such as little, require care. If the vowel sound is short, there must be two consonants between the vowel and the -le. Otherwise, one consonant is enough.
li tt le
ha nd le
ti ck le
a mp le
bo tt le
pu zz le
cru mb le
a ng le


Published date : 24 Sep 2010 06:05PM

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