Key Vocabulary Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​A suffix is added to the end of a word. Suffixes can change meaning and class (noun/verb/adjective/adverb) of a word.
Let’s look at an example:

Love is a verb.
I love chocolate!

To turn it into an adjective we add ‘able’.
Love + able = loveable
Puppies and kittens are  loveable animals!

​’loveable’ is an adjective describing something which deserves love or is easy to love.

​It is important that you understand how suffixes change words and using them will help to improve your vocabulary band in speaking and writing.

If you are unsure about parts of speech like ‘noun’, ‘verb’, ‘adjective’ etc, then this site can help you.


​Exercise 1

​Read the sentences below. Are the words in bold nouns, adjectives, adverbs or verbs?

Are These words Nouns, Adjectives or Verbs?

1. It was a very agricultural area when I was young.
2. Traditionally, the bride arrives before the groom.
3. The creation of a local scout group made a lot of children happy.
4. The rarity of crime makes this a very safe place to live.
5. I get a lot of enjoyment from seeing my team play well.


​Click below to see our introduction to different suffixes.
Different Suffixes Introduced

  1. Agriculture (noun) + al = agricultural (adjective) ​
  2. Tradition (noun) + ally = traditionally (adverb)
  3. Create (verb) + ion = creation (noun)
  4. Rare (adjective) + ity = rarity = (noun)
  5. Enjoy (verb) + ment = enjoyment (noun)


A suffix can have a different effect on different words.
For example, Agriculture (noun) + al = agriculture (an adjective).
But refuse (verb) + al = refusal (noun).

So –al can turn a noun into an adjective, and turn a verb into a noun.
-ally can turn adjectives into adverbs.
-ion can turn adjectives and verbs into nouns.   
-ity can turn adjectives into nouns.
-ment can turn verbs and adjectives into nouns.


Exercise 2

​Complete the following sentences by using the word given and adding the appropriate suffix. You may need to add extra letters if the word is a plural noun.

Add suffixes to the words in the brackets ()

1. The wheel was one of the most important of our early history. (invent)
2. Some people say the of the economy is the most important issue in poorer countries. (develop)
3. More and more businesses these days are becoming friendly. (environment)
4. I love the architecture in southern Greece. (tradition)
5. Young people all around the world like to express their by dressing as they like and listening to pop music. (individual)
6. A teacher must always give clear or the students are likely to fail the task. (instruct)
7. There are many differences in accent and slang vocabulary of English spoken in the UK. (region)
8. The report was not received well as many scientists questioned the of the results. (valid)
9. The of the president’s own family members in the corruption case cause a huge scandal. (involve)
10. I would like to talk about the importance of fire safety at home. (specific)

There are many different types of suffixes in English. Learning how suffixes change words will help your comprehension of reading and listening material and improve your vocabulary when you are speaking or writing. 

When you learn a new word in the future, think about whether it has a suffix, and how the suffix changes the meaning and use of the word.

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