Suffixes: Spelling Review Study Guide (page 2)

Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Suffix Rule #1: Consonant or Silent e + Consonant

If a suffix begins with a consonant, it can usually be attached to a base word that ends in a consonant or a silent e with no change to the base word or the suffix.

  • wise + -ly = wisely
  • mechanic + -al = mechanical
  • good + -ness = goodness

As with any good rule, there are always exceptions. A few words that end in silent e drop the e when adding suffix. For example, acknowledge + -ment = acknowledgment. Other common examples are argument, awful, duly, judgment, ninth, truly, wholly, and wisdom.

Suffix Rule #2: Silent e + Vowel

If a base word ends in a silent e and the suffix begins with a vowel, drop the silent e when adding the suffix.

  • type + -ist = typist
  • drive + -able = drivable
  • fortune + -ate = fortunate

The exception to this rule occurs when the suffixes -able or -ous are added to words that end in g + silent e or c + silent e. The silent e remains in these words as a reminder that the g and c sounds are soft.

  • courage + -ous = courageous
  • notice + -able = noticeable
  • outrage + -ous = outrageous


ADJECTIVES MODIFY NOUNSor pronouns. Words like nice, pretty, and large are all adjectives. Adverbs modify everything else: verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, clauses, and sentences. Adverbs answer the questions "How?" "Why?" "When?" "Where?" "In what way?" "How much?" "How often?" "Under what condition?" and "To what degree?" Words like excitedly, today, and very are all adverbs.

When adverbs modify verbs or adjectives, they often end in the suffix -ly. For example: "I walked slowly," "She chews noisily," or "We are extremely bored." You can't automatically assume that every word ending in -ly is an adverb; for example, friendly, lonely, and lovely are all adjectives.

Adverbs that end in -ly can be formed by adding -ly to adjectives (like comfortableor poor), present participles (-ing words like surprising or trusting), or past participles (-ed words like assured or embarrassed). There are a few special rules that pertain to suffixes ending in -ly:

  1. When the base word ends in -able or -ible, drop the final e and replace it with a -y.


  • terrible + -ly = terribly
  • arguable + -ly = arguably
  1. When the base word ends in -ic, add -ally.


  • idiotic + -ly = idiotically
  • emphatic + -ly = emphatically

Suffix Rule #3: When to change -y to an i

When base words end in a consonant + -y combination, change the -y to an i when adding suffixes. If the base word ends in a vowel + -y combination, keep the final -y.

Examples of words that end in consonant + -y combinations:
  • beauty + -ful = beautiful
  • busy + -ness= business
  • marry + -age = marriage
Examples of words that end in vowel + -y combinations:
  • destroy + -er = destroyer
  • pay + -ment = payment
  • buoy + -ant = buoyant

There is one very common exception to this rule: Something that happens every day happens daily, not dayly.

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