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Five Tips for Adding Suffixes


A suffix is added to the end of a word to change its meaning. Sometimes, when you add a suffix, the root word has to be changed slightly first. Here are five tips for adding suffixes:

  1. Before adding a suffix, you need to identify if you’re using a vowel suffix or a consonant suffix. This will help you work out what (if any) changes you need to make to the root word.

    Vowel suffixes: -able, -al, -es, -ed, -er, -en, -est, -ible, -ing, -iish, -ous, -y

    (At the end of a word, the -y is pronounced with an /ee/ sound.)

    Consonant suffixes:-ful, -less, -ly, -ment, -ness, -s, -ty

  2. If you add a vowel suffix to a word which only had one consonant at the end, you must double the consonant.

    For example:
    Fit + er = Fitter
    Run + ing = Running
    Fun + y = Funny

  3. If you add a vowel suffix to a word which ends in the letter ‘e’, you must drop the ‘e’.

    For example:
    Love + ing = Loving (but love + ly = lovely)
    Shine + y = Shiny

  4. If you add a suffix to a word ending with the letter ‘y’, change the ‘y’ to an ‘i’ (unless the suffix begins with ‘i’, or there is a vowel in the root word directly before ‘i’). If the suffix is -s, change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ and then add -es instead of -s.

    For example:
    Beauty + ful = Beautiful
    Cry + ing = Crying (rather than criing)
    Party + s = Parties
    Employ + ment = employment

    There are some exceptions to this rule and you should learn them as you come across them. Some include: daily, dryness, laid, paid, said, shyly, and shyness.

  5. When turning words that end in the letter ‘f’ or ‘fe’ into plurals, sometimes you have to change the ‘f’ or ‘fe’ to ‘ve’ before adding -s.

    Words ending in ‘ff’ stay the same when adding -s (because of the short vowel sound).

    For example:
    Leaf + s = Leaves
    Wife + s = Wives
    Cliff + s = Cliffs

    There are some exceptions to this rule and you should learn them as you come across them. Some include: beliefs, chiefs, and roofs.

    There are also some words which can be spelled with either -fs or -ves. For example: hoofs/hooves or scarfs/scarves.

This article has only briefly explored the spelling rules for adding suffixes. Have a go at Unit 9 of our online spelling course for more advice, examples, exceptions, and practice. The course also explains the reasoning behind each of these spelling rules and we believe this helps students to remember them. If you are not a registered user, click here for more information on how to sign up for a subscription and here to learn more about our Spelling Ability Test.

Have a great week!


01 May 2016
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