Suffixes are groups of letters that are added to the ending of words. Just like a prefix, these letters can change the meaning of a word.


ful (full of) care careful
ness (a condition of) bitter, happy bitterness,
less (without) penny, care penniless,
y (characterized by) cloud cloudy
en (caused to be) bright brighten
able (able to) wash washable

Headline Headache

Not a Real Word

Many employers shake their heads when they get resumes with misspelled words. Someone probably got a laugh when they read this: “I am uncareful of plants and animals.” Hmmmm … the prefix un means not. The suffix ful means full of. So the person was “not full of care” for plants and animals? Do you think this person got the job?

There's an important rule to remember when you want to add suffixes to words. Sometimes it is necessary to change the spelling of a word in order to add the suffix. If a word has a silent e at the end, such as in the words have or like, you drop that e when you add a suffix if the suffix begins with a vowel. For example, you might have the flu. John might not ever remember having the flu. Here, that e after the v was dropped when you added ing. This pattern can be used with words such as save, which becomes saving, and drive, which becomes driving.

When a Root Word Ends in a Consonant

When you are adding a suffix that begins with a consonant to a word that already ends in a consonant, you can keep all the letters in a word. For instance, slow becomes slowly. Careful becomes carefully.

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