What are suffixes and why are they useful in academia?
This is the first of three lessons about Suffixes. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Introduce the concept of affixation
– Discuss how suffixes may be used and recognised
– Provide examples suffixes and word forms
Much like prefixes, suffixes are another aspect of word structure and grammar that a student should become familiar and confident with if they wish to improve their English, particularly at a university level. While prefixes are added to the beginning of a word to change that word’s meaning, a suffix is added to the end of an existing word to change its grammar or word class. Both prefixation and suffixation are a type of affixation, which is a lexical process in which morphemes (pieces of words) are attached to an existing word to alter its grammar, meaning or class. Affixation may occur either in the middle of a word (infixation), at the end of a word (suffixation), or at the beginning of a word (prefixation).
Because suffixation in English allows the writer or speaker to alter the grammar of a word or its word class, it’s very important for students to recognise the various suffixes available and learn how to use them accurately and effectively. A simple suffix such as ‘-s’, for example, may be added to change a noun from singular to plural, while adding ‘-ed’ to a verb will allow the user to change the tense of a regular verb from present to past. While these two examples alter the grammar of a word, a suffix such as ‘-less’ may instead be used to change a noun into an adjective or ‘-ise’ to change a noun to a verb, for example.
Having an advanced knowledge of suffixation in the English language is therefore very useful for a learner of English, particularly one that’s being formally assessed in the language. A student who’s confident in recognising and using a wide variety of word forms will be able to expand their vocabulary more quickly, as such a student will be able to take a word and know which suffixes will likely be needed to form all variations of that word’s word family. Being accurate with suffixation will also allow a student to speak and write more accurately, particularly improving grammar and word-form errors which commonly impede meaning. Because a native speaker will notice these types of errors very easily, the less you make these error types, the better you will be understood and the higher your grade will likely be.
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of what a suffix is and why such suffixes are important, let’s take a closer look at the many different types of suffix available to a student. While lesson 2 helps to categorise these types, Lesson 3 has been designed to provide the most common academic suffixes available.
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