What are suffixes? A suffix is a group of letters that can be added to the end of a root word.

A root word is an independent word that stands alone, but new words can be made from them by adding a suffix at the end. For example:

Root word Suffix New word
jump ing jumping
old est oldest
fast er faster

Adding suffixes to words can add to or change their meaning.

Suffixes also show how a word will be used in a sentence and whether the word is a noun, verb, adverb or adjective.

Some suffixes can be added to the end of a root word without changing any spelling, such as ‘old’ and ‘jump’ in the table above.

However, sometimes adding a suffix to a root word will involve changing the root word, either by removing some letters or adding extra letters.

When do children learn about suffixes?

Children will be gradually introduced to different suffixes throughout KS1 and KS2. In Year 1 children will be introduced to simple suffixes that can be added to a root word without adding or removing letters. These include:

Suffix Root word example New word
ing walk walking
est strong strongest
er slow slower
ed want wanted

From Year 2 onward children are introduced to more complicated suffixes. Before adding these suffixes, the root words need changing by removing and adding letters. Children will learn the following suffixes:

Suffix Root word example Letters added/ removed New word
ing swim + m +ing swimming
ied carry -y + ied carried
ier happy -y + ier happier
ly calm + ly calmly
ful joy + ful joyful
ness kind + ness kindness
ment excite + ment excitement
ed defer + r + ed deferred

In Years 3 and 4 children will also be taught:

Suffix Root word example Letters added/ removed New word
ly hungry – y + i + ly hungrily
ous venom + ous venomous
ation calculate – e + ion calculation

In Year 5 children will be taught the meaning of some suffixes, for example:

Suffix Meaning Example
graph to write autograph (self-written)
port carry transport (carry people/goods)
ology to study theology (study of God)

How can learning different suffixes help children?

Learning the meaning of suffixes can also help children with their spelling, as words are broken down into sections which makes them easier to learn.

It is useful that teachers often group suffixes into categories (depending on whether they are verbs, adverbs, adjectives or nouns), as this means children are simultaneously learning about suffixes and different types of words.

How to help children with suffixes?

Teachers might ask children to use a dictionary to find as many words with a certain prefix as they can. This exercise will help children learn new words and widen their vocabulary.

In preparation for their Year 6 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test, it is useful to give children practice questions involving suffixes. Here is an example question:

Add a suffix to each word below so that it becomes an adjective:

Noun Adjective
beauty beautiful
nature natural
health healthiest
power powerful

Correct answers are shown above.

How does Learning Street help children with suffixes?

From Year 3, we begin to introduce children to suffixes and slowly increase the complexity of them as they get older in order to help coincide with what they are learning at school.

Our structured lessons contain core English skills that will help the child improve their ability and understanding of suffixes by improving their overall capability.

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