Language Arts Canadian Lead Primary School

Suffixes Part Two: Derivational Suffixes


de (off or away from) + riv (brook/stream) = derive

To derive, is to trace the origin. In its most literal sense, words float downstream from other words.

Derivational suffixes are used to make (or derive) new words. In particular, they are used to change a word from one part of speech to another. Here is an example:

entertain = verb + -ment = entertainment = noun

These are  the three main parts of speech that derivational suffixes fall into:

  • noun-forming
  • adjective-forming
  • verb-forming

In the example above, we call -ment an noun-forming suffix because it creates nouns. A noun- forming suffix can change verbs into nouns, as we saw. A noun-forming suffix can also turn adjectives into nouns:

happy = adjective+ -ness = happiness = noun

Of course, suffixes can be added to bases that don’t stand alone to make nouns, adjectives or verbs. Take the base -fin, meaning last:

-fin- + -al = final = adjective

Some quick reference tables:

Noun-forming suffixes

Adjective-forming suffixes

Verb-forming suffixes

An important aspect of suffix work is the way in which the base needs to alter in the presence of various suffix types. This is the theme of the next unit.

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