Suffixes

Sometimes adding a suffix can change the spelling of a root word. If the suffix begins with a vowel, the final consonant of the root word must be doubled. This rule applies only if the root word has one syllable or if the accent is on the last syllable. For example, when adding the suffix -ery to the root word “rob”, the final word becomes “robbery”. The letter b is doubled because “rob” has only one syllable. However, when adding the suffix -able to the root word “profit”, the final word becomes “profitable”. The letter t is not doubled because the root word “profit” has two syllables. Spelling is not changed when the suffixes -less, -ness, -ly, or -en are used. The only exception to this rule occurs when the suffix -ness or -ly is added to a root word ending in y. In this case, the y changes to i. For example, “happy” becomes “happily”. Suffixes are a group of letters, placed behind a root word, that carry a specific meaning. Suffixes can perform one of two possible functions. They can be used to create a new word, or they can shift the tense of a word without changing its original meaning. For example, the suffix -ability can be added to the end of the word “account” to form the new word “accountability”. “Account” means a written narrative or description of events, while “accountability” means the state of being liable. The suffix -ed can be added to “account” to form the word “accounted”, which simply shifts the word from present tense to past tense. Certain suffixes require that the root word be modified. If the suffix begins with a vowel, such as -ing, and the root word ends in the letter e, the letter e must be dropped before adding the suffix. For example, the word “write” becomes “writing”. If the suffix begins with a consonant instead of a vowel, the letter e at the end of the root word does not need to be dropped. For example, “hope” becomes “hopeless”. The only exceptions to this rule are the words “judgment”, ‘acknowledgment”, and “argument”. If a root word ends in the letter y and is preceded by a consonant, the y is changed to i before adding the suffix. This is true for all suffixes except those that begin with i. For example, “plenty” becomes “plentiful”.


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Last updated: 12/15/2017
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