In linguistics, a suffix (also sometimes called a postfix or ending) is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs. Particularly in the study of Semitic languages, a suffix is called an afformative, as they can alter the form of the words to which they are fixed. In Indo-European studies, a distinction is made between suffixes and endings (see Proto-Indo-European root).

Suffixes can carry grammatical information (inflectional suffixes). (derivational suffixes). An inflectional suffix is sometimes called a desinence.[1]

Some examples in European languages:

Girls, where the suffix -s marks the plural.
He makes, where suffix -s marks the third person singular present tense.
It closed, where the suffix -ed marks the past tense.
De beaux jours, where the suffix -x marks the plural.
Elle est passablement jolie, where the suffix -e marks the feminine form of the adjective.

Many synthetic languagesCzech, German, Finnish, Latin, Hungarian, Russian, Turkish, etc.—use a large number of endings.

Suffixes used in English frequently have Greek, French or Latin origins.


Inflectional suffixes

Inflection changes grammatical properties of a word within its syntactic category. In the example:

The weather forecaster said it would clear today, but it hasn't cleared at all.

the suffix -ed inflects the root-word clear to indicate past tense. Some inflectional suffixes in present day English:

  • -s third person singular present
  • -ed past tense
  • -ing progressive/continuous
  • -en past participle
  • -s plural
  • -en plural (irregular)
  • -er comparative
  • -est superlative
  • -n't negative[2]

Derivational suffixes

In the example:

"The weather forecaster said it would be clear today, but I can't see clearly at all"

the suffix -ly modifies the root-word clear from an adjective into an adverb. Derivation can also form a semantically distinct word within the same syntactic category. In this example:

"The weather forecaster said it would be a clear day today, but I think it's more like clearish!"

the suffix -ish modifies the root-word clear, changing its meaning to "clear, but not very clear".

Some derivational suffixes in present day English:

See also


  1. ^ The Free Online Dictionary
  2. ^ Zwicky, Arnold M.; Pullum, Geoffrey K. (1983), "Cliticization vs. Inflection: English n't", Language (Language, Vol. 59, No. 3) 59 (3): 502–513, doi:10.2307/413900, JSTOR 413900, 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Suffix — Sn am Ende angefügtes Wortbildungselement per. Wortschatz fach. (18. Jh.) Entlehnung. Substantiviert aus l. suffixum das unten Angefügte    Ebenso nndl. suffix, ne. suffix, nfrz. suffixe, nschw. suffix, nnorw. suffiks; Affix, sub . lateinisch l …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • suffix — In grammar, a suffix is a word or element added at the end of another word to adjust or qualify its meaning, such as ation (confirmation, privatization), ing (driving, soldiering), and itis (appendicitis). Some suffixes are created artificially… …   Modern English usage

  • suffix — ► NOUN ▪ an element added at the end of a word to form a derivative (e.g. ation). ► VERB ▪ append, especially as a suffix …   English terms dictionary

  • suffix — [suf′iks; ] also, for v. [, sə fiks′] n. [ModL suffixum < neut. of L suffixus, pp. of suffigere, to fasten on beneath < sub ,SUB + figere, to FIX] 1. a letter, syllable, or group of syllables added at the end of a word or word base to… …   English World dictionary

  • Suffix — Suf*fix , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Suffixed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Suffixing}.] To add or annex to the end, as a letter or syllable to a word; to append. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Suffix — Suf fix, n. [L. suffixus, p. p. of suffigere to fasten on, to affix; sub under + figere to fix: cf. F. suffixe. See {Fix}.] 1. A letter, letters, syllable, or syllables added or appended to the end of a word or a root to modify the meaning; a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Suffix — (lat.), Nachsilbe, am Ende eines Wortes angehängte Silbe; s. Flexion und Süffigierende Sprachen …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Suffíx — (lat. suffixum), ein Lautkomplex, der einer Wurzel oder einem Stamme am Ende angefügt wird …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • suffix — index codicil Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • suffix — (n.) 1778, from Mod.L. suffixum, noun use of neuter of L. suffixus fastened, pp. of suffigere fasten, fix on, from sub upon (see SUB (Cf. sub )) + figere fasten (see FIX (Cf. fix)). The verb, in the grammatical sense, is first recorded 1778.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Suffix — »Nachsilbe« (im Gegensatz zu ↑ Präfix): Der sprachwissenschaftliche Terminus ist aus lat. suf fixum, dem substantivierten Neutrum des Part. Perf. von lat. suf figere »unten anheften«, entlehnt (vgl. ↑ sub..., ↑ Sub... und über das einfache Verb… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

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