Exploring 13 Common English Suffixes

Top 13 Most Common Suffixes in English: A Deep Dive into Their Grammar and Meaning

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Derek Cupp

By Derek Cupp

English is a language of layers, constantly evolving and absorbing influences from different cultures and eras. It’s no wonder then, that mastering English grammar can often feel like trying to catch a slippery fish with your bare hands. One such slippery fish is the use of suffixes.

Suffixes are fascinating little linguistic devices that pack quite a punch. They’re like tiny toolboxes carrying meaning, altering the function of words they get attached to. Interestingly, our everyday conversations are peppered with them but we might not even realize their significance.

In this article, I’ll uncover the top 13 most common suffixes in English language – their grammatical roles and meanings. We’ll delve into how these powerful word endings subtly shape our sentences and express nuanced ideas. So let’s start this exciting exploration into the world of suffixes!

Piecing the Puzzle: The Role of Suffixes in English

Grasping the importance of suffixes can feel like piecing together a complex puzzle. So let’s dive right into it! A suffix, simply put, is a letter or group of letters added at the end of a word to alter its meaning.

Suffixes are crucial linguistic tools that help us modify and manipulate language to better express ourselves. They’re the subtle heroes delivering nuanced meanings in our daily conversations, writings, and readings. Just think about how adding “-less” to “fear” gives us “fearless”, completely changing the word’s connotation.

Let’s break down some of their main roles:

  • Showing grammatical relationships: Suffixes can indicate tense, number, person and more. For example, adding “-ed” to “jump” changes it from present tense (“I jump”) to past tense (“I jumped”).

  • Creating new words: By adding different suffixes, we can convert verbs into nouns (like turning “beautify” into “beauty”), adjectives into adverbs (like changing “happy” into “happily”), and much more.

  • Changing word classes: Ever noticed how “-ness” converts an adjective into a noun? Take for instance “happy” becoming “happiness”.

Here’s a brief table depicting these transformations:

Base Word


New Word










These are just some ways suffixes work their magic in English grammar. By understanding their roles and uses, you’ll find yourself navigating through language with greater ease and precision. And remember – every piece counts when you’re piecing together this linguistic puzzle!

Dissecting the Top 13 English Suffixes: Grammar and Meaning

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of English suffixes. The meaning and grammar of a word can often be discerned from its ending, or suffix. Here are the top 13 most common English suffixes, their grammatical function, and examples.

  1. -s: This is used to create plural nouns or third person singular verbs. For example, ‘cats’ (plural noun) or ‘runs’ (third person singular verb).

  2. -ed: This indicates past tense for regular verbs like ‘talked’ or ‘walked’.

  3. -ing: It’s used for present participles (‘running’) and gerunds (‘reading’).

  4. -ly: Adverbs are formed with this suffix as in ‘quickly’ or ‘softly’.

  5. -er/-or: These typically denote someone who does something, such as a ‘driver’ or an ‘actor’.

  6. -ion/-tion/-ation/-ition: These endings form nouns from verbs like ‘action’, ‘celebration’, or ‘transition’.

  7. -ible/-able: They’re added to verbs to form adjectives meaning capable of being like ‘readable’.

  8. -ness: This one forms nouns from adjectives as in ‘happiness’.

  9. -less: Forms adjectives that mean without as in ‘hopeless’. 10.** -ful** : It denotes full of something as in ‘grateful’. 11 .** -ment** : Nouns denoting action or process end with this such as ‘agreement.’ 12 .** -ous / -eous / -ious** : Adjectives end with these like ‘dangerous,’ ‘courageous,’ and ’mysterious’ respectively. 13 .** -y / -ey / ie* *: These endings make words sound smaller or more informal such as ’puppy’, ’key’, ’cookie’.

There you have it! While there are many other suffixes out there, these 13 are some of the most common ones you’ll encounter when studying English grammar and vocabulary.

A keen understanding of these will not only improve your comprehension but also enhance your writing skills by enabling you to manipulate language more effectively.

Remember, each piece of information here is meant to further your understanding – so take it one step at a time!

Conclusion: The Impact of Mastering Common Suffixes

Mastering common suffixes can revolutionize your command of the English language. I’ve seen this impact firsthand. It’s not just about adding a few letters at the end of words; it’s about understanding their transformative power.

Suffixes are like secret keys to meaning. They can convert nouns into adjectives, verbs into nouns, and so much more. Once you get the hang of them, you’ll find that they add depth and flexibility to your communication skills.

Let’s take a quick glance back at our list:

  • “-able”

  • “-al”

  • “-ed”

  • “-er”

  • “-ful”

  • “-ing”

  • “-ion”

  • “-ity”

  • “-ly”

  • “-ness”

  • “-ous”

  • “-s”, “–es”

  • “-y”

By mastering these suffixes, you’ll unlock thousands of new words in English – an amazing feat indeed!

Understanding common suffixes doesn’t merely expand your vocabulary; it boosts your comprehension too. You’ll be able to deduce meanings from unfamiliar words based on their suffixes – a handy skill when reading advanced texts or taking standardized tests.

But remember, practice is key! Incorporate these suffixes into your daily conversations and writing exercises. Before long, they’ll become second nature to you.

Learning common suffixes is truly a game-changer for English learners. So why wait? Start exploring and mastering them today!

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