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suffixes that make adjectives, verbs or adverbs

Sample lecture  Course syllabus

Adjective marking Suffixes

Adjective suffixes usually have the following generic meaning: 

of the characteristic, having the quality of

But some adjective suffixes do have specific meanings.

-able, -ible (being capable of)

adaptable, credible, risible, terrible, predictable, preventable, edible, presentable, legible, flammable, discernible, culpable, accountable, acceptable, unbearable, dishonorable, irreversible, unsustainable, intolerable

-al (of the characteristic)

natural, criminal, theatrical, accidental, regional, brutal, facial, mental, spiritual, personal, regional, universal, seasonal, arterial, cranial, medial, biological, environmental, supplemental, technical, visual

-ane (of the characteristic) 

arcane, humane, mundane, urbane

-ant (of the characteristic) 

reliant, defiant, vigilant, brilliant, verdant, important, relevant, reluctant, significant, tolerant

-ary (of the characteristic) 

cautionary, customary, momentary, dietary, veterinary, planetary

-ent (of the characteristic) 

eloquent, intelligent, consistent, evident, negligent, proficient, sufficient, urgent

-escent (becoming)

luminescent, phosphorescent, evanescent, pubescent, adolescent

-ferous (bearing) 

coniferous, soporiferous, vociferous, luciferous

-fic (making) 

beatific, horrific, malefic, scientific, 

-ful (full of) 

colorful, grateful, hopeful, respectful, wonderful, fanciful, beautiful, skillful, successful, delightful, awful, careful, doubtful, fearful, helpful

-genic (creating) 

carcinogenic, eugenic, mutagenic, photogenic

-ic (of the characteristic)

athletic, scenic, fantastic, organic, acidic, historic,  domestic, emphatic, metallic, patriotic, realistic, symbolic, sympathetic, poetic, iconic, basic, scientific, rhythmic, photographic, antibiotic, neurotic, symbiotic

-ical (of the characteristic)

  practical, logical, magical, statistical, alphabetical, historical

-id (being in the state of)

acid, gelid, limpid, tepid

-ile (being in the state of)

agile, docile, facile, fertile, fragile, fusile, futile, juvenile, prehensile, puerile, docile, senile, sterile  

-ious, -ous: full of

cautious, humorous, gracious, fabulous, dangerous, mysterious, nervous, victorious, poisonous, courteous, spacious, specious, malicious, audacious, perspicacious, porous, rigorous, verbose, lachrymose, morose, courageous, erroneous, malicious, nervous, serious, nauseous, gaseous, envious,  obvious

-ish (of the characteristic)

sheepish, foolish, childish, selfish, girlish, pinkish, smallish, yellowish, reddish, Scottish

-ive (of the characteristic)

expensive, pensive, creative, disruptive, quantitative, effusive, abusive, conclusive, exclusive, ineffective, supportive

-less: without something

 faultless, fearless, useless, friendless, homeless, worthless, penniless, hopeless, powerless, needless, restless, listless

-like (resembling)

childlike, birdlike, warlike, lifelike, ladylike

-some (of the characteristic)

gruesome, lonesome, twosome, awesome, burdensome

-ular (of the characteristic) 

cellular, circular, singular

-y (of the characteristic)

fruity, tasty, brainy, grouchy, rainy, funny, messy, dirty, spotty, noisy

Verb marking Suffixes

Verb suffixes have the meaning to do, to make, to cause, or to become


fasten, strengthen, soften, awaken, blacken, broaden, deafen, flatten, gladden, tighten, shorten, sweeten,  strengthen, lengthen, brighten, darken


accommodate, activate, animate, captivate, consolidate, cooperate, decorate, allocate, concentrate, consecrate, enervate, eradicate

-ify, -fy 

classify, codify, clarify, crucify, defy, falsify, intensify, modify, satisfy, simplify, unify, exemplify, identify, justify, notify, terrify, purify, putrefy, simplify, stupefy, magnify, rectify


authorize, commercialize, idealize, ionize, metastasize, realize, victimize, rationalize, harmonize, specialize, apologize, characterize, digitalize, socialize, symbolize, stabilize, familiarize, advertise, colonize, civilize

Adverb marking Suffixes

Adverb suffixes have the meaning of “in the manner something is being done.”  

The most common adverb suffix is -ly which is added to plain adjectives.

-ly : 

in the manner of 

bravely, simply, honestly, gladly, lately, rightly, completely, really, definitely, maturely, carefully, carelessly, conversely, effortlessly, logically, realistically

-ward, -wards: to a certain direction

 backward, inward, outward, wayward, awkward, afterward, downwards, homeward(s), upwards

- wise : in relation to

clockwise, counter-clockwise, edgewise, lengthwise, otherwise, crosswise, likewise

-where (relating to a location) 

anywhere, everywhere, nowhere, somewhere