Adjective Suffixes in English

Revisado porKateryna Protsenko / más sobre Proceso editorial
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If you’re a non-native English speaker, you may find it tough to understand the various rules of English adjectives. Forming adjectives. is a tough, but important aspect of the language.

The good news is that English has many ways of making adjectives, and if you understand suffixes, you can do it with ease. In this reference, we’ll explore the concept of suffixes, provide a list of some of the most common ones, and explain the meaning of each adjectival suffix in English.

What is an Adjective Suffix?

An adjective suffix is a group of letters that are added to the end of a word to change the word’s meaning or to make it an adjective. Adjective suffixes are a great way to add more description to a sentence without having to use too many words. For example, when you add the suffix “-able” to the word “trust”, you can create the adjective “trustable” which means that something is able to be trusted.

The use of adjective suffixes can be quite complicated and it’s important to understand which suffixes can be added to which words. For example, the suffix “-ful” can be added to words such as “care” and “beauty” to create the adjectives “careful” and “beautiful”, but it cannot be added to the word “happy” as the word “happiness” already exists in the English language.

In addition to understanding which suffixes can be added to which words, it’s also important to know the meaning of each suffix so that you can use them correctly. For example, the suffix “-ous” is used to describe something full of a certain quality, such as in the word “dangerous”. Knowing the meaning of each suffix can help you to use them correctly and effectively in your writing.

Adjective Suffixes List

Now that you know what an adjective suffix is, let’s take a look at some of the most common ones. Here’s a full list of adjective suffixes in English:

  • -able: able to be done or able to be used
  • -al: related to a certain thing
  • -ful: full of a certain quality
  • -ic: pertaining to a certain thing
  • -ive: having a certain quality
  • -less: without a certain quality
  • -ous: full of a certain quality
  • -y: having the characteristics of something
  • -ish: similar to a certain quality

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Common Adjective Suffixes

Let’s take a look at each of the adjective suffixes and explain the meaning and see 10 example words for each one.

Suffix -able (iable)

The suffix “-able” means that something is able to be done or that it is capable of being done. Here are 10 example words that use the suffix “-able”:

  • Adaptable
  • Changeable
  • Dependable
  • Drinkable
  • Enjoyable
  • Lovable
  • Notable
  • Reliable
  • Tolerable
  • Wearable

You can use the suffix -able to create many more words. Another version of this same suffix is -ible, which also means “able to be done.” For example:

  • Accessible
  • Collapsible
  • Edible
  • Flexible
  • Invisible

You normally choose -ible for words that end in “-ss” or “-ct.”

Suffix -al (ial)

The suffix “-al” means that something is related to or pertaining to a particular thing or person. Here are 10 example words that use the suffix “-al”:

  • Annual
  • Critical
  • Cultural
  • Universal
  • Musical
  • Political
  • Regional
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Brutal

Other versions of this suffix are -ial and -ical, which also mean “related to or pertaining to a particular thing.” For example:

  • Financial
  • Historical
  • Metaphysical
  • Physical
  • Practical

You normally choose -ial for words that end in “-t” or “-s.”

-ical is a bit more complicated and is normally used for words with a Greek root. For example, the word "Paradox" has a Greek root, so it is usually written as "Paradoxical."

Suffix -ful

The suffix “-ful” means that something is full of a certain quality or attribute. Here are 10 example words that use the suffix “-ful”:

  • Careful
  • Cheerful
  • Clueless
  • Fearful
  • Hopeful
  • Joyful
  • Painful
  • Skillful
  • Thankful
  • Thoughtful

You can also use the suffix “-ful” to create adjectives that describe a person or thing. For example, the word “colorful” means that something is full of color.

Suffix -ic

The suffix “-ic” means that something is related to a certain action, process, or thing. Here are 10 example words that use the suffix “-ic”:

  • Automatic
  • Basic
  • Dramatic
  • Fantastic
  • Historic
  • Lyrical
  • Panic
  • Romantic
  • Scientific
  • Tragic

You can also use the suffix “-ic” to create adjectives that describe a person or thing. For example, the word “energetic” means that someone is full of energy. We choose -ic and not -ful here because energy is a process or action, not an attribute.

Suffix -ive

The suffix “-ive” means that something is characterized by a certain quality or attribute. Here are 10 example words that use the suffix “-ive”:

  • Active
  • Aggressive
  • Creative
  • Decisive
  • Expressive
  • Imaginative
  • Positive
  • Protective
  • Responsive
  • Sensitive

You can also use the suffix “-ive” to create adjectives that describe a person or thing. For example, the word “adaptive” means that someone is able to adapt quickly to new situations. At the same time, "adaptable" means that something is capable of being adapted or changed. We choose -ive here if we want to specify that the quality of being able to adapt or change is an attribute.

Suffix -less

The suffix “-less” means that something is without a certain quality or attribute. Here are 10 example words that use the suffix “-less”:

  • Careless
  • Fearless
  • Heartless
  • Hopeless
  • Motionless
  • Peerless
  • Reckless
  • Skilless
  • Useless
  • Worthless

This is one of the easiest suffixes to use. Just add “-less” to the end of a word to create a negative adjective. For example, you can make the word “careful” into the negative adjective “careless” by adding the suffix “-less.” We would choose -less here if we want to specify that there is a lack of energy or activity.

Suffix -ous

The suffix “-ous” means that something is marked by a certain quality or attribute. Here are 10 example words that use the suffix “-ous”:

  • Famous
  • Glorious
  • Harmful
  • Joyous
  • Nervous
  • Religious
  • Serious
  • Spontaneous
  • Tenacious
  • Victorious

As you can see, -ous sometimes turns into -ious. We use -ious because the word ends with vowel. For example, “glory” can be turned into “glorious,” and so on. This is one of the most common suffixes and it is often used to create adjectives. For example, you can make the word “fame” into the adjective “famous” by adding the suffix “-ous.”

Suffix -y

The suffix “-y” means that something is full of a certain quality or attribute. Here are 10 example words that use the suffix “-y”:

  • Airy
  • Brainy
  • Dirty
  • Greedy
  • Moody
  • Pretty
  • Rocky
  • Smelly
  • Tiny
  • Windy

This is another very common suffix and it is often used to create adjectives. For example, you can make the word “rock” into the adjective “rocky” by adding the suffix “-y.” We would choose -y here if we want to specify that something is abundant.

Suffix -ish

The suffix “-ish” means that something is similar or approximate to a certain quality or attribute. Here are 10 example words that use the suffix “-ish”:

  • Childish
  • Foolish
  • Sheepish
  • Bookish
  • Boyish
  • Yellowish
  • Selfish
  • Feverish
  • Brutish
  • Squeamish

This is a good suffix if you want to show the existence of some quality without certainty. For example, you can make the word “green” into the adjective “greenish” by adding the suffix “-ish.” We would choose -ish here if we want to specify that something is similar to the green color, but is not quite the same thing.

Adjective Suffixes in English

Summary

In this reference, we’ve explored the concept of adjective suffixes, provided a list of the most common ones, and explained the meaning and 10 example words for each common adjective suffix in English. We hope that this helped you to understand the concept and apply it in your own life.

Check out more references if you're interested in adjectives and different rules of using them.

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Comentarios

MasterMay 9th, 2024
Nice.it helps kids a lot
King Kohli 👑Mar 30th, 2024
Very useful for kids and their knowledge.
EVANDec 23rd, 2023
TY)
Mia Juarez 👑Nov 28th, 2023
This article was a great read!
sodeghMay 25th, 2023
very helpful article