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Noun making suffixes from AC to ER

Sample lecture  Course syllabus

A suffix is a group of letters placed at the end of a word to make a new word or to indicate its  grammar role in a sentence. For instance, the regular suffix for a plural noun or third person singular verb is “-s” or “-es”. In this book, we omit grammar suffixes. Suffixes can change the part of speech of a word. That is, they can change nouns into adjectives, adjectives into adverbs, and verbs into nouns, and so on. Even within the same part of speech, different suffixes can express different ideas. For example, both “-ance” and “-ant” can make some words into nouns, but they mean different ideas:

assistance (the action or state of assisting)

assistant  (a person who assists others) 

In this section, we categorize suffixes based on which parts of speech the suffixes make. In this light, there are four suffix groups: noun-marking suffixes, adjective-marking suffixes, verb-marking suffixes, and adverb-marking suffixes. An important thing about suffixes is that they can shift the stress of the words. So when you listen to the words with suffixes, pay attention to the stress of the words. A more detailed study of word stress and stress shift can be found in English Prosody: Rhythm and Melody. 

Noun-marking Suffixes from AC to ER

Noun suffixes can indicate some of the following meanings: action, state, quality, process, condition or a person. Many of these suffixes can also be used as adjective-indicating suffixes. 


-ac (feature, follower)

hypochondriac, maniac, hemophiliac, brainiac, cardiac

-acy, -cy (state, process)

democracy, legacy, lunacy, normalcy, necromancy, dependency

-acean (class or order)

crustacean, cetacean

-ad (state)

monad, triad, Olympiad

-age (feature)

postage, package, baggage, marriage, breakage, passage, sewage

-agogy (lead, guidance)

demagogy, pedagogy

-al (action)

dismissal, proposal, arrival, approval, denial, refusal


-ality (state)

causality, personality, reality, specialty, actuality, penalty, commonality

-an, -ian (a person belonging to a country or group)

American, German, Christian, civilian, Indian, Italian, Korean, physician, Arcadian, Canadian, Hadean, comedian, librarian, reptilian

-ance, -ence (process, action, state)  

acceptance, attendance, insurance, avoidance, dominance, substance

reference, preference, existence, luminescence, science, consequence, absence, convenience, influence, presence, innocence, difference, recurrence, audience, essence, evidence, insistence

-ant, -ent (a person who, a thing that)

combatant, merchant, peasant, assistant, defendant, participant, resident, student, penchant, accident

-ar (thing pertaining to) 

cellular, molecular, polar, nuclear, molar, vernacular, modular, grammar

-arch (ruler)

patriarch, matriarch, monarch, hierarch, oligarch, autarch

-archy (rule, leadership) 

anarchy, monarchy, oligarchy, hierarchy

-arian, -orian (person with certain feature) 

grammarian, librarian,  septuagenarian, octogenarian, vegetarian, sectarian,  pedestrian, valedictorian

-arium (place for) 

aquarium, sanitarium, terrarium, planetarium, solarium 

-ary, -ery, -ory (property, feature, place) 

aviary, boundary, bribery, dictionary, library, victory, dietary, military, bakery, machinery, slavery, brewery, dormitory, factory, laboratory, observatory

-cian (person having a skill) 

clinician, musician, magician, technician, dietitian 

-cide (kill) 

insecticide, herbicide, homicide, patricide, genocide, suicide

-dom (state, realm) 

boredom, freedom, princedom, wisdom, stardom, kingdom

-ee (person that receives something) 

employee, payee, trainee, referee, trustee, retiree

-eer  (person doing something)

volunteer, engineer, musketeer, auctioneer, racketeer, mountaineer, profiteer

-er, -or (person of profession, a thing)

teacher, dancer, helper, farmer, lawyer, jeweler, preacher, prisoner, villager, translator, investigator