A suffix is a letter or group of letters added to the end of a word to change the form or meaning of the word. Inflectional suffixes create different forms of the same word, and derivational suffixes usually change a word’s meaning or part of speech.
Knowing the meanings of common derivational suffixes helps students determine the meanings of unfamiliar words. Students typically become familiar with some common suffixes in their vocabulary words before suffixes are taught directly. Word study with suffixes begins with common suffixes which may already be familiar, such as -ful (helpful), then progress to intermediate and advanced suffixes, including Latin and Greek roots.
Word study for derivational suffixes should include the definitions of the suffixes along with many examples of words that include the suffix.
Common Core State Standards Related to Suffixes
Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.
Use frequently occurring affixes as a clue to the meaning of a word.
Identify frequently occurring root words (e.g., look) and their inflectional forms (e.g., looks, looked, looking).
Decode words with common prefixes and suffixes.
Identify and know the meaning of the most common prefixes and derivational suffixes.
Decode words with common Latin suffixes.
Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known affix is added to a known word (e.g., agreeable/disagreeable, comfortable/uncomfortable, care/careless, heat/preheat).
Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).
Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.
Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., telegraph, photograph, autograph).
Suffix -ful: useful, thankful, graceful, peaceful, thoughtful, painful, doubtful, dreadful, spiteful, fearful
Suffix -ness: awareness, forgiveness, darkness, weakness, greatness, happiness, emptiness, loneliness, silliness, fondness
Suffix -less: harmless, flawless, hopeless, worthless, boundless, wireless, lifeless, effortless, priceless, penniless
Suffix -able/-ible: affordable ,suitable, portable, valuable, reliable, irritable, flexible, visible, collectible, sensible
Suffix -ment: payment, assortment, impairment, establishment, argument, judgment, investment, management, adjustment, commitment
Suffix -ion/-tion/-sion: infection, appreciation, instruction, tradition, competition, relaxation, temptation, confusion, collision, invasion
Suffix -ive: attentive, selective, protective, talkative, cooperative, effective, impulsive, defensive, expressive, persuasive
Suffix -al/-ial: coastal, national, historical, logical, practical, burial, essential, celestial, artificial, official
Suffix -ance/-ence: attendance, endurance, tolerance, disturbance, assistance, residence, persistence, obedience, excellence, coincidence
Suffix -ant/-ent (noun): immigrant, servant, assistant, contestant, defendant, opponent, resident, student, correspondent, disinfectant
Suffix -ant/-ent (adjective): significant, observant, vacant, resistant, flamboyant, evident, dependent, insistent, absorbent, urgent
Suffix -an/-ian: musician, pediatrician, historian, civilian, comedian, guardian, politician, custodian, electrician, librarian
Suffix -ic: toxic, acidic, aquatic, magnetic, dramatic, academic, enthusiastic, catastrophic, realistic, heroic
Suffix -ous: humorous, numerous, nutritious, prosperous, adventurous, mysterious, rebellious, courageous, envious, studious
Suffix -age: blockage, orphanage, dosage, percentage, shortage, mileage, hostage, wreckage, storage, coverage
Suffix -ize: mobilize, deodorize, legalize, specialize, customize, apologize, energize, immunize, moisturize, computerize
Suffix -ty/-ity: scarcity, humidity, royalty, safety, hospitality, adversity, poverty, priority, necessity, ability
Suffix -er/-or/-ar (noun): teacher, consumer, announcer, dancer, inventor, survivor, visitor, investigator, liar, beggar
Suffix -en (verb): frighten, lengthen, sweeten, darken, dampen, tighten, weaken, thicken, fasten, straighten
Suffix – y: scratchy, curly, misty, wealthy, greedy, sticky, buttery, breezy, noisy, squishy
Suffix -ate (verb): participate, calculate, activate, populate, demonstrate, communicate, decorate, migrate, evaporate, investigate
Suffix -ate (adjective): appropriate, delicate, intricate, inanimate, considerate, fortunate, accurate, adequate, passionate, deliberate
Suffix -fy: simplify, glorify, beautify, verify, purify, magnify, diversify, modify, dignify, ratify
Suffix -ing: sleeping, running, locating, carrying, delaying, raining, falling, satisfying, tasting, dropping
VocabularySpellingCity.com provides word lists, printables, and interactive games and activities that give students the opportunity to practice using suffixes as clues to the meanings of words.
Try Vocabulary TestMe with the Suffix -ment list.