Get our Seven Steps to Fluency HandoutDownload NOW
Seven Steps to Fluency

blog

The Best Suffix List

Expand Your English Vocabulary in Record Time

May 17, 2017 2 comments

“That’s it?”

“Just five suffixes?”

“I thought this was supposed to be the best suffix list.”

I know, it doesn’t look like a very long list, but…

Did you know that these five suffixes show up in thousands of other words?

Don’t believe me?

BAM!

This a list of 100 words that include at least one of the five suffixes listed in our best suffix list. This is just a small sampling of all the words in English that include one of these suffixes.

For example, according to More Words, over 1200 words end with the suffix -ous.

Pretty cool right?

Suffixes are powerful. Not only do they clue you into the meaning of the word, but they also let you know if the word you are encountering is a noun, verb, adjective and/or adverb.

So, for example, almost all words that end with –ize make a verb.

  • realize
  • recognize
  • sympathize
  • energize
  • materialize

They are all verbs.

Now, there are hundreds of suffixes that show up in English, but, lucky for you, I have selected 44, just 44 suffixes that you need to know in order to improve your vocabulary by thousands of words in just a fraction of the time.

Imagine, reading a book without looking in a dictionary every second!

By the end of this article, you will know what suffixes are, where they’re located in words and how you can use them to improve your reading comprehension and expand your vocabulary.

Sound good?

Oh, and if you want, you can download the Vocabulary Ninja suffix list. Learn these 44 suffixes and expand your vocabulary by thousands. You can get it right here for free.

All right, let’s jump right in.

What Are Suffixes?

According to Richard Nordquist over at ThoughtCo,

“A suffix is a letter or a group of letters attached to the end of a word to form a new word or to change the grammatical function (or part of speech) of the original word.”

In other words, a suffix is a tiny group of letters that go at the end of a word. Let’s look at a simple example:

unfixable 

The suffix, in this case, is -able.

How do I know that?

Well, I know that un is a prefix. Prefixes are tiny groups of letters that go at the beginning of a word. For more on prefixes, you can check out our article, The Best Prefix List.

You probably know other examples of words that begin with un (i.e. unreliable, unhappy).

You may also know that fix is a root word. Root words derive from Greek and Latin. They are tiny groups of letters that can go at the beginning, middle or end of a word.

You probably know other words with the root fix (i.e. fixture, transfix, suffix)

For more on root words, you can check out our article, The Best Root Word List.

Let’s get back to the suffix in unfixable:

-able

This particular suffix, -able, usually implies that the given word is an adjective that means you can do or able to do something.

So, as you can see, suffixes help you understand the part of speech and meaning of the word through both the suffix (-able) and the root the suffix is connected to (fix).

Why Are Suffixes Important?

Knowledge of suffixes can expand your vocabulary and improve your reading comprehension. Not only do they help you understand the meaning of a word without looking in a dictionary, but they also give you a hint about a given word’s part of speech.

What’s the part of speech?

The part of speech is the category a given word is assigned to. Elizabeth O Brien at English Grammar Revolution sums it up well when she states:

…there are eight parts of speech: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection.

However, for you, the English language learner, focus on just four: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. You only need to know these four to expand your vocabulary using suffixes.

If you still don’t have a clue what part of speech means, you can check out this helpful 20-minute video describing the parts of speech in detail.

Let’s look back at our example:

unfixable

If something is unfixable, it’s probably an adjective that describes an object which can NOT be secured or repaired.

According to the dictionary,

unfixable – not able to be repaired or put right

This is a simple example of how you can use suffixes to get the idea of what a word means without looking in a dictionary.

Wait.

There’s a problem.

Two Types of Suffixes

You might be asking yourself…

Aren’t suffixes the letters that go at the end of words when you want to change the verb tense?

You’re right, but those are not the kind of suffixes I’m talking about.

There are two different types of suffixes.

“Suffixes can be of two types: (1) inflectional suffixes such as -ed and -s that change the tense or number of a word without changing its part of speech, and (2) derivational suffixes such as   -ity and -tion that change a word’s part of speech or shade of meaning.” from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Oregon

So, there are two types of suffixes: inflectional suffixes and derivational suffixes.

Sexy, right?

Don’t worry about the fancy words. Just remember that inflectional suffixes change verb tenses. Inflectional suffixes are the ones you studied in your grammar book. The most common example is  -ed, which goes at the end of a verb to put it in the past tense.

For example…

walk = walked

That’s an inflectional suffix because it changes the tense, not the meaning or the part of speech.

  • walk – a verb that explains the process of putting one foot in front of the other
  • walked – same meaning, just put in the past tense

Now, a derivational suffix

Let’s use the same base word, walk.

walker – (n.) a person who walks, 2. (n.) a baby carriage

In this case, walker, the derivational suffix, changed the part of speech from a verb to a noun. The word walker is still connected to the base form, walk, but slightly altered in meaning.

Exciting, right?

I know derivational suffixes don’t sound exciting, but they are crucial if you want to reach your goal of English fluency.

You won’t find a chapter on derivational suffixes in your grammar textbook, but you will find that they will dramatically improve your reading comprehension and boost your vocabulary.

Believe it or not…

You actually already know many of these suffixes, you just don’t know how to use that knowledge and apply it when you study English.

Just take the derivational suffix -er and think about all of the other nouns you know that end with -er:

walker
stroller
driver
talker
mover
knocker
teacher
reader

The first thing you might notice is that all of these words are nouns. Also, in many instances, the suffix -er indicates that the word describes a person who performs the action of the root.

  • A reader reads. 
  • A teacher teaches
  • A knocker knocks 

So, if you know the 44 most important derivational suffixes, then you will be able to know a word’s part of speech, identify the root within the word, and guess the meaning.

Still with me?

I know this is hard at first.

Let’s look at some more examples…

If you’re tired of reading, you can check out our Youtube video on suffixes right here. 

Suffixes in Action 

I promise, if you devote the time and effort required to commit these few suffixes to memory, your vocabulary is going to increase by thousands.

How do you do it?

Let’s go back to the best suffix list and look at each one in more detail.

Let’s start with: –

tion

conduction

Break it down into familiar parts you already know.

con – is a prefix which means together
duc – is a root word which means to lead

And the suffix -tion implies that the word is a noun that describes an action or process.

From this information, you can guess:

conduction – a noun that has to do with the process of leading two or more things together

According to the dictionary,

conduction – (noun) – the process by which heat, fluid or sound is carried from one place to another

Pretty close, right?

The best part?

According to the folks at More Words, there are over 2500 words that end with –tion, and most are nouns. Here are just 20.

Next up is the suffix:

ize

sympathize

So, let’s break this word down into parts.

sym – a prefix that implies something is connected or together

path – a root that could mean either feeling or disease

ize – this suffix usually creates a verb and has something to do with becoming

If you know the meaning of the prefix, suffix, and root word, then you can make a very good guess of what the word actually means.

You can guess:

sympathize – a verb that has to do with people feeling something together

According to the dictionary,

sympathize – (verb) to share in a feeling with others

Magic.

Remember, if you don’t know enough about prefixes you can check out our Best Prefix List here.

If you don’t know about root words, you can check out our article here, The Best Root Word List here.

And also if you’re excited to start expanding your vocabulary using prefixes, suffixes and root words, you can download this FREE ebook that will teach you over 400 new words in less than an hour.

 

Oh, and here’s a list if 20 new words you just learned.

According to More Words, there are over 700 words that end with -ize and a great majority of them are verbs.

 

The next entry from our best suffix list is:

ive

subjective

As always, let’s break this word down and see if we can figure out the meaning by analyzing the parts of the word.

sub – a popular prefix that implies that the word has to do with under or below

ject – this root means that something is thrown or pushed forward

ive – this suffix creates an adjective and adjectives provide characteristics of a noun

With this information, you can guess:

subjective – (adjective) to describe something that is thrown under others

According to the dictionary,

subjective – (adjective) based on personal feelings or taste

Wow!

Not close at all.

The dictionary definition of subjective is almost completely different than the meaning of the prefixes, suffixes, and roots.

Okay, so my guess was very different from the actual meaning, but that’s okay.

I included this example for a reason. 

I want you to know that the Vocabulary Ninja Method doesn’t work all the time, but it works a lot of the time. Don’t be disappointed if your guess is not connected to the actual meaning. That’s okay. The most important thing is for you to think actively about what you’re reading. Being active in your learning will help you improve in almost every area of English.

And according to More Words, there are over 900 words that end with –ive and almost all of them are adjectives. Here’s a list of just 20:

Two more suffixes to go from our best suffix list. You probably recognize the next one:

-ance, -ence

disturbance

Again, this word contains a prefix, suffix, and root word.

dis– a prefix you may recognize which implies that the root is away from its meaning

turb – this root implies confusion or, more accurately, change from a normal environment

ance, ence – these suffixes create a noun and describe a given state or quality

So, with all of this information, you can guess:

disturbance – a noun to describe a confused situation or one that’s not normal

According to the dictionary,

disturbance – an interruption or confusion (of a peaceful state)

And, according to More Words, there are over 200 words that end with –ance and 300 words that end with –ence. Here are 20 example words:

Consider yourself very lucky. 

If you’ve read this far then you realize the true potential of The Vocabulary Ninja Method.

This is the best suffix list because it only includes the most important suffixes you need to know to improve your vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension.

If you’d like to know more, don’t forget to down our free eBook and expand your vocabulary by up to 400 words in less than an hour.

Here, we go.

The last suffix is

ous.

rebellious

Let’s break the word down into familiar parts.

re – a popular prefix that usually implies that something happens again

belli – a root word that is connected to fighting

ous – an adjective that means you have certain qualities

With all of this information you can guess:

rebellious – an adjective used to describe two parties that fight more than once

According to the dictionary,

rebellious – an adjective to describe a person or people who resist an established authority

Pretty close, right?

The best part?

The suffix –ous shows up in over 1200 words and many of them are adjectives describing the qualities of a noun. Here are 20:

Again, The Vocabulary Ninja Method doesn’t work perfectly 100% of the time, but it often gives you an idea of what a word means without looking in a dictionary.

Is your head about to explode?

Don’t worry, I had the same feeling when I first started learning about prefixes, suffixes, and root words. There are just so many of them that can be applied to thousands of words, so it’s hard to know where to focus.

A good place to start is our free ebook, The Vocabulary Ninja Suffix List.

Are there any other important suffixes I missed?

Do you have more questions?

Please comment below and I’ll be sure to answer.

Stay hungry.

-Josh

2 Comments
  1. Muhannad Habeeb says:

    It’s. Incredible article …useful and interesting…… I am lucky that I found this method for learning and expand my English vocabulary.
    Thank​you so much Sir!!!
    Again that’s what I have been looking for long time.
    Now and then With Ninja method…..I am Strong ….Confident…. Excited

    1. macpherson13 says:

      Thanks for leaving such a nice comment Muhannad. I’m happy it helped.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *