Suffixes: Spelling Review Study Guide

Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Suffixes: Spelling Review Practice Exercises

It's true that when you look at words as nothing more than collections of vowels and consonants, it can be a little difficult to see the patterns. Certainly, memorizing the common vowel and consonant combinations can help you spell a large number of words, but these "rules" can only teach you a small part of the bigger picture. Your knowledge of the digraph mb, for instance, only comes in handy when you encounter words that end in an m sound.

Well, don't fret. Now that we're done looking at the sometimes overwhelming world of vowels and consonants, we can start to look at how parts of speech behave. And once we get into the different parts of speech, the rules become much more regular and easy to remember. In this chapter, you'll learn how words interact with suffix endings. But first, let's see how much you already know.


Before we learn how endings work, we should do a quick refresher on the parts of speech to which endings can be added.


When we're talking about endings, we're really talking about a few different things.

  1. Plural endings: A singular noun is one person, place, thing, or idea, while a plural noun shows more than one person, place, thing, or idea. Cougar is singular, cougars is plural. Nouns are the only part of speech that have a plural ending. Plurals generally end in -s or -es, but there are some plurals that do not end in either. Plural endings will be discussed in Chapter 7.
  2. Conjugation endings: Verbs are conjugated when they change tense. For example, walk is a verb in the present tense (i.e., I walk to school). Walked is a verb in the past tense (i.e., I walked to school), while will walk is the future tense (i.e., I will walkto school). There are other tenses, including the present continuous (I am walking), the past perfect (I had walkedto the store before dinner), and the past perfect continuous (I had been walkingfor ten minutes when I arrived at the store). We'll examine verb conjugations in greater detail in Chapter 8.
  3. Suffix endings: Technically, all letters added to the end of words are suffixes, including plural endings and conjugation endings. For the purpose of this book, though, we're going to think of suffix endings as endings that change a word from one part of speech to the other. For example, the word teach is a verb. Add the suffix ending -er to it, and it becomes a noun: teacher


As you saw in the part of speech table, suffixes are categorized by the types of speech they represent. The suffix ending -ment is a noun ending. This means, if you see the suffix -ment on a word, that word will be a noun. This ending can only be added to verbs. To state something means to say it; the word state is a verb. A statement is something that is said; the word statement is a noun. So, in other words, the suffix turns the verb into a noun. In Appendix D you will find a list of the most common suffixes divided by the part of speech they represent.

There are six essential rules for adding suffix endings, and they are all pretty consistent. Learn these rules well; some of them will also help you later, when you are learning how to make singular nouns into plurals and conjugate verbs.

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