How Suffixes Simplify English-Boost Your British Vocabulary Ep 702

Letters forming the word suffix at the end of a longer word. Boost Vocabulary Fast: Quickly grasp English nuances.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 3643 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 19 min

📥 Download MP3 & PDF 13.2 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript ▪️ 🎧 Listen to Lesson

Learn English Language: From 'Happy' to 'Happiness' Suffixes in British English

Today you will discover some handy tips on how to grow your English vocabulary without having to learn more words. This lesson will help you with your #englishfluency and transform your current vocabulary into a much bigger one with only a little effort! So join us now and start listening to today's time saving tutorial! 🎓

Why You'll Love This Lesson:

  • 🌈 Enhance Vocabulary: Discover how suffixes morph words, expanding your English vocabulary.
  • 🎙️ Improve Pronunciation: Master the sounds of English with clear examples.
  • 📚 Grammar & Conversation Skills: Learn practical grammar for everyday conversations.
  • 🧠 Boost Comprehension: Understand the nuances of British English.
  • 🚀 For All Levels: Perfect for beginners, intermediates, and advanced learners.
  • 🎧 Effective Listening Practice: Develop your listening skills with engaging content.
  • 🆓 Free English Lessons: Access a wealth of resources at

✔Lesson transcript:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
⭐ Leonardo da Vinci, Italian polymath.

Today in our #englishlesson you'll discover how suffixes can transform your understanding of English. By learning these simple word endings, you'll unlock the meanings of words, even those you haven't encountered before.

It's a powerful shortcut, helping you guess meanings in conversations and speeding up your language learning journey.

The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.
⭐ B.B. King, American blues singersongwriter.

👉 Join this journey to fluent English speaking with Adept English. Your language acquisition shortcut awaits! 💬

More About This Lesson

Welcome to our Adept English lesson on suffixes! Today, we're diving into the magic of '-ness' and '-able'. These tiny word endings pack a big punch in learning English. They're not just letters; they're keys to unlocking new word meanings and boosting your language skills!

Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know.
⭐ Daniel J. Boorstin

Things you will learn in this English fluency lesson:

  1. Boosts Vocabulary: Understand how suffixes change word meanings.
  2. Improves Comprehension: Learn to guess meanings of unfamiliar words.
  3. Expands Word Knowledge: Recognize patterns in word formations.
  4. Enhances Speaking Skills: Apply new vocabulary in conversations.
  5. Grasps Nuances: Understand subtle differences in British English.
  6. Develops Language Intuition: Notice and use language patterns more quickly.
  7. Increases Confidence: Less fear in guessing or working out new words.
  8. Encourages Active Learning: Actively engage with language mechanics.
  9. Cultivates Efficiency: Use language shortcuts for quicker learning.
  10. Broadens Understanding: Learn about abstract and concrete nouns.
  11. Deepens Cultural Insight: Gain exposure to British English specifics.
  12. Enhances Expression: Use complex meanings in single words effectively.

Benefits of our listen & learn approach to learning

Why This Matters: Understanding suffixes greatly benefits your English journey. Here's what you'll gain:

  • You'll quickly grow your vocabulary, learning to guess meanings of new words.
  • These suffixes will speed up your learning, helping you understand and use English more fluently.
  • They'll boost your confidence in conversations, making English feel more natural and enjoyable for you.

Important Insights:

  • Don't let complex words scare you. Suffixes like '-ness' in 'happiness' make new words easier to grasp.
  • Feeling slow in your progress? Suffixes like '-able' are language shortcuts, moving you faster toward fluency.
  • Worried about forgetting words? Recognizing patterns with suffixes helps you remember and use them better.
  • Afraid of misunderstanding English words? Suffixes like '-ful' and '-less' make meanings clearer.
  • Struggling with expressing complex ideas? Compound suffixes enhance your ability to convey deeper meanings.
  • Nervous about conversations? Suffixes increase your confidence in engaging with English speakers.
  • Concerned about fluency? Regular practice with suffixes will make speaking English more natural for you.

Why It's Worth Your Time:

  • Suffixes have fascinating histories, like '-ness' from Old English, enriching your understanding of English.
  • Comparing suffixes in other languages shows this isn't just an English concept, but a global linguistic feature.
  • Psycholinguistics research reveals that understanding suffixes improves your brain's processing of language.
One forgets words as one forgets names. One's vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die.
⭐ Evelyn Waugh, English writer.

Ready to elevate your English skills? Follow and subscribe to Adept English for more enlightening lessons like this. Dive into the world of suffixes with us and watch your language abilities soar!

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning suffixes like '-ness' and '-able' is like discovering a magical key in a vast library, effortlessly unlocking the deeper meanings of countless English words.

  1. What are suffixes, and why are they important in learning British English? Suffixes are letter groups added at the end of words to change their meaning or function. In British English, understanding suffixes like '-ness' and '-able' is crucial because they transform words into different parts of speech, enhancing vocabulary and comprehension. Recognizing these suffixes can also help guess the meaning of new words, an essential skill in language fluency.
  2. How do suffixes '-ness' and '-able' change word meanings? The suffix '-ness' transforms adjectives into nouns, indicating a state or quality (e.g., 'happiness' from 'happy'). '-Able' turns verbs into adjectives, suggesting something can be done (e.g., 'readable' means something can be read). These changes are significant for understanding context and nuances in English.
  3. Can suffixes help in guessing the meaning of unfamiliar English words? Yes, knowing common suffixes can aid in deducing meanings of unfamiliar words. For instance, if a word ends in '-ness', it's likely an abstract noun, and '-able' indicates an adjective. This knowledge is particularly helpful in conversations and can accelerate language learning by identifying patterns.
  4. Are there any rules for using suffixes in English? While English has guidelines rather than strict rules for suffixes, certain patterns are usually followed. For example, '-ness' often follows an adjective, and '-able' typically comes after a verb. However, exceptions exist, and usage can vary, especially between American and British English.
  5. How can learning suffixes improve English fluency? Learning suffixes expands vocabulary and enhances understanding of word formation, crucial for fluency. It aids in quicker recognition of word meanings and grammatical functions, improving both comprehension and expressive language skills. This understanding is especially beneficial in grasping the subtleties of British English.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Suffix: A group of letters added to the end of a word to change its meaning.
  • Prefix: A group of letters added to the beginning of a word to modify its meaning.
  • Abstract Noun: A type of noun that refers to an idea, quality, or state rather than a physical object.
  • Compound: To combine two or more elements to form something new.
  • Tightfistedness: The quality of being unwilling to spend money; stinginess.
  • Warmheartedness: The quality of being kind, friendly, and sympathetic.
  • Nearsightedness: The condition of being able to see things clearly only if they are very close.
  • Inappropriateness: The quality of being not suitable or proper in a particular situation.
  • Culpable: Deserving blame or censure; blameworthy.
  • Existential: Relating to human existence or the experience of existence.

Most Frequently Used Words:


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Transcript: How Suffixes Simplify English-Boost Your British Vocabulary

Boost your vocabulary with knowledge of suffixes

Hi there. Today let’s boost your vocabulary by learning how suffixes can unlock word meaning and help your understanding of English. Have you ever wondered how knowing some simple word endings can help your English comprehension - even of words you’ve not met before? So today some help with suffixes in line with Rule Six of The Seven Rules of Adept English - the ‘helping hand’.

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

The main way of learning language for fluent speaking is of course through repeat listening But there are some aspects of English language where it just helps to have things explained. It can help things ‘click into place’ for you as a language learner. Shortcuts to language learning, if you like. They’re aspects of English which you’d eventually recognise as patterns yourself - but it’s helpful if I point them out to you and you get there more quickly! If you want to know more about ‘the helping hand of Adept English’ and other proven techniques for learning language to fluency, don’t forget to take our free course, The Seven Rules of Adept English - visit to find out more.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

What’s the difference between happy and happiness?

Let’s start with a question: Do you know the difference between 'happiness' and 'happy'? It's all in the suffix! In British English, suffixes like '-ness', such as in 'happiness' or 'kindness', transform adjectives into nouns. They're like a secret code, revealing also that these words aren't just any old nouns, but abstract nouns, ones that represent ideas rather than things you can touch. So, why is this important? Understanding suffixes is more than a language trick; it's a shortcut to grasping the richness of English, particularly the nuances of British English.


A lightbulb illuminating over a book, symbolizing a moment of realization. Confident Conversations: Guess new words accurately.

©️ Adept English 2023

Definition of suffixes

So I covered some common prefixes in English in podcast 686. A ‘prefix’, PREFIX goes on the front of words - like the ‘un’ in ‘unwanted’ or ‘unhelpful’. So today, I’m going to talk about some common suffixes - that’s ‘suffix’, SUFFIX. And these are the opposite of prefixes - suffixes go on the ends of words. There are lots of common suffixes in English, but today I’m going to help you understand some words you might not know - it can help you guess the meaning better if you know some common suffixes. It’s good to know a lot of vocabulary in English. But it’s also good to not be afraid of guessing or working out words you don’t know, especially when you’re in conversation. With a bit of knowledge, often you’ll be correct. So that’s what this podcast will help you with!

The suffix ‘-ness’

In English, we have suffixes like ‘-ness’, NESS, like in the word ‘kindness’ or ‘happiness’. Immediately on seeing a word with this ending, this ‘-ness’ suffix - you know that the word is a noun. Words ending in NESS are always nouns. And more than that - they’re usually abstract nouns - they describe ideas rather than concrete things. Words ending in ‘-ness’ in English usually have come from an adjective. They’re the noun associated with the adjective. So ‘happiness’ comes from ‘happy’, ‘kindness’ comes from ‘kind’, KIND. They mean ‘the state of being happy’ or ‘the state of being kind’.

Other examples of simple words ending in ‘-ness’? Illness - ‘the state of being ill’ - as in ‘His illness has slowed him down this year’. Or ‘sadness’ - ‘the state of being sad’. Obvious words here too - like ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’, from the adjectives ‘good’ and ‘bad’. But also words like ‘wetness’ - ‘the state of being wet’ or ‘oddness’ - ‘the state of being odd’. ‘When he appeared at my door, his oddness and his wetness made me think there was some madness here!’

Other words like this are ‘coolness’, ‘firmness’, ‘weakness’, ‘softness’, ‘fairness’, ‘stillness’. There’s a website called ‘The Free Dictionary’ and this one lists no fewer than 4,651 English words that end in NESS. That’s why I’m suggesting that this is a good ‘shortcut’ to learning! Some examples of longer words ending in ‘-ness’ to test your understanding - ‘tightfistedness’, ‘warmheartedness’, ‘nearsightedness’ or ‘inappropriateness’!

The suffix ‘-able’

OK, let’s do another one. What about the suffix ‘-able’, ABLE? Also worth learning - the Free Dictionary lists 2,695 English words that end in ‘-able’. So what does it mean? Well, first it means that the word you’re looking at is most likely an adjective - a describing word. And the meaning? Well, if a word has ‘-able’ on the end of it, it means ‘able to to be done’. So if you take a word such as ‘like’, LIKE - then if someone or something is ‘able to be liked’, we say they’re ‘likeable’, LIKEABLE. Notice here that that E stays - often in these joined words, we might drop the Magic-E on the end. But the E stays here. If something is easily able to be done, it’s ‘doable’, DOABLE, from the verb ‘to do’. Now obviously when I quote that 2,695 words in the Free Dictionary end in ‘-able’, that number does include some words like ‘table’, TABLE, ‘cable’, CABLE and ‘stable’, STABLE. These are clearly nouns, although ‘stable’ can also be an adjective. But the vast majority of the words of the words ending in ‘-able’ in the list are adjectives. Other examples from that list - from ‘to fix’, ‘fixable’, meaning ‘able to be fixed’, from the verb ‘to tax’, ‘taxable’ meaning ‘able to be taxed’. ‘Moveable’ means ‘able to be moved’ - notice the E stays again there - MOVEABLE. ‘Culpable’ means ‘able to be blamed’ - this one’s from the Latin word ‘culpa’, CULPA as in ‘mea culpa’ meaning ‘my blame’. Also ‘liveable’, LIVEABLE means ‘able to be lived or ‘wearable’ means ‘able to be worn’. Again when the vast majority of that 2,695 words follow this rule - it’s a rule worth learning!

The suffixes ‘-less’ and ‘-ful’

A couple of endings which are best learned together next. What about if a word has ‘-ful’, FUL on the end? And what about if a word has ‘-less’, LESS on the end? Well, words with these suffixes are usually adjectives, again, or describing words. And if a word has an ‘-ful’ ending, that means ‘full of something’ - so an example would be ‘joyful’, JOYFUL meaning ‘full of joy’. And if a word has an ‘-less’, LESS on the end, as its suffix - it means ‘lacking in something’ - so ‘joyless’, JOYLESS means ‘with no joy’ - that’s ‘joyless’. So if you put ‘-ful’ as a suffix into The Free Dictionary website, you get 640 English words. Now obviously here there are words like teaspoonful - I explained that this is a measure of liquid, in my recent podcast 693, when I was talking about ‘Vocabulary for the Kitchen’. So there are exceptions, but again most of these 640 words are adjectives meaning ‘full of’ something. Other examples? Thoughtful, respectful, meaningful, successful. So they mean ‘full of thought’, ‘full of respect’, ‘full of meaning’, ‘full of success’. These are words you probably know. Less obvious examples - ‘grateful’ or ‘ungrateful’ - so notice it’s quite possible for words to have both a prefix and a suffix! That’s ‘ungrateful’. Other examples of words with this FUL suffix - ‘thankful’, ‘delightful’, ‘graceful’, ‘beautiful’ or ‘stressful’, ‘spiteful’ or ‘forgetful’.

And if we look at words that end ‘-less’, LESS? Again that online resource The Free Dictionary is very useful. It lists 1,187 English words that end in ‘less’. It also amused me slightly - if you put ‘less’ into this website as the suffix, it warns you ‘This page may contain content that is offensive or inappropriate for some readers’! So I confess I spent some minutes amusing myself, looking at this list, trying to find those offensive or inappropriate words because I’m a child at heart! It was a waste of time, it turned out - I wasn’t able to find any words, which I’d consider ‘offensive’! Anyway, 1,187 words. There are of course a few odd words that don’t follow the pattern - like the word ‘bless’, BLESS or ‘unless’, UNLESS. And similarly with two other conjunction words, ‘nevertheless’ and ‘irregardless’. But most of these words ending LESS are adjectives, describing a lack of something. More examples? ‘Flawless’, FLAWLESS meaning ‘without flaw’ - ‘without defect’ in other words. Also ‘hairless’, ‘nameless’, ‘soulless’, ‘spotless’ - these mean ‘without hair’, ‘without name’, ‘without soul’ - usually meaning something has ‘no atmosphere’. And ‘spotless’ meaning ‘without a spot’, which we use idiomatically to mean ‘very clean’. As in the sentence ‘I stayed at a bed and breakfast in Hull - and the room was spotless!’.

Learn English Fluency Faster: The Power of Self-Explanation

And you can ‘compound suffixes’!

And there are also a group of words which even ‘compound’ suffixes! ‘To compound’, COMPOUND means ‘to put one on top of another’. So if I said to you ‘childlessness’ - would you be able to work out what I meant? So you probably know the word ‘child’ to mean ‘a little person’, ‘someone under the age of 18’ technically. And if you were ‘childless’ - it would mean that you didn’t have a child. And perhaps some implication that you’d like one. And if we then talk about ‘childlessness’ which is a noun - it means ‘the situation of not having a child and probably wanting one’. So these types of words can also imply a lot of meaning, very efficiently. You might come across ‘meaningfulness’ or ‘meaninglessness’? Well, ‘meaning’, MEANING is a noun, a gerund in fact - and as an English language learner, you’re always thinking about ‘the meaning’ of words. But people also use the word ‘meaning’ to talk about having ‘purpose in their lives’. You might feel your life is ‘meaningful’ or ‘meaningless’. People do need meaning in their lives! And if you wanted to express these words as feelings, as nouns - you could say ‘meaninglessness’ or ‘meaningfulness’. ‘Meaninglessness’ is quite an Existential idea - that people either find meaning in their lives or they don’t - and if they don’t, they can really suffer with ‘meaninglessness’. It’s one of the four Existential truths - that people like Irvin Yalom or Rollo May talk about.

Suffixes can make nuanced words - say a lot with a little!

So I guess the point I’m making in that last part - although we’re talking here about the mechanics of the English language and the basics of ‘how it works’ - prefixes and suffixes and compound words really allow us to express a lot, quite complex meanings in a single word. The language that I’m familiar with that also does this? German. The German language loves a compound word! And one of my favourite German words? ‘Funkelnagelneu’, meaning ‘brand new’ - but literally ‘sparkling like a new nail’. Or ‘bright as a new pin’ might be the equivalent saying in English.

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So suffixes are far more than boring word endings. I hope I’ve brought suffixes alive a little bit for you in this podcast - and demonstrated that they’re well worth learning. In fact learning of this type is a great shortcut when you’re grappling with the English language.


Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at



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