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This article is about the linguistic term. For other uses, see Suffix (disambiguation).

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). A word-final segment that is somewhere between a free morpheme and a bound morpheme is known as a suffixoid[1] or a semi-suffix[2] (e.g., English -like or German -freundlich 'friendly').

Suffixes can carry grammatical information (inflectional suffixes) or lexical information (derivational suffixes). An inflectional suffix is sometimes called a desinence.[3]

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[edit]

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

I was hoping the cloth wouldn't fade, but it has faded quite a bit.

the suffix -ed inflects the root-word fade to indicate past tense.

Some inflectional suffixes in present day English:

Derivational suffixes[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ Kremer, Marion. 1997. Person reference and gender in translation: a contrastive investigation of English and German. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, p. 69, note 11.
  2. ^ Marchand, Hans. 1969. The categories and types of present-day English word-formation: A synchronic-diachronic approach. Munich: Beck, pp. 356 ff.
  3. ^ The Free Online Dictionary

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffix — Please support Wikipedia.
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