Guide to Spelling: Hooked on Phonics
Attaching Prefixes and Suffixes: Bits and Pieces
Prefixes are word parts you add to the beginning of a word to change its meaning; suffixes are word parts you add to the end of a word to change its meaning. Because many useful words are created by adding prefixes and suffixes to root words, you can save a lot of time wondering “Did I spell this sucker correctly?” by knowing how to add prefixes and suffixes. Let's take a look at the guidelines.
Attaching Prefixes: Front-End Collision
The rule here is simple: Don't add or omit a letter when you attach a prefix. Keep all the letters—every one of them. Here are some examples.
You Could Look It Up
Prefixes are word parts you add to the beginning of a word to change its meaning; suffixes are word parts you add to the end of a word to change its meaning.
Attaching Suffixes: Rear-End Collision
Keep all the letters when you add a suffix … unless the word ends in a y or a silent e. We'll talk about them later. The following chart and guidelines show you how to master the suffix situation.
If the letter before the final y is a consonant, change the y to i and add the suffix. Study these examples.
Word Suffix New Word hurry + ed = hurried greedy + ly = greedily
- Hurry doesn't follow the rule: hurry + ing = hurrying. Here are some other exceptions: dryly, dryness, shyly, shyness, babyish, ladylike.
If the letter before the final y is a vowel, do not change the y before attaching a suffix.
Word Suffix New Word play + ing = playing destroy + ed = destroyed
- Here are some exceptions: laid, paid, said, mislaid, underpaid, unsaid.
If the suffix begins with a vowel, drop the silent e. Here are some examples.
Word Suffix New Word write + ing = writing love + able = lovable use + age = usage
- When the word ends in ce or ge, keep the e if the suffix begins with a or o: noticeable, manageable, advantageous. Here are some common exceptions: acreage, mileage, singeing, canoeing, hoeing.
If the suffix begins with a consonant, keep the silent e. Here are some examples.
Word Suffix New Word excite + ment = excitement care + ful = careful fierce + ly = fiercely
- Of course there are some exceptions: argument, duly, truly, wholly, and ninth.
If the word ends in ie, drop the e and change the i to y. Check out these examples.
Word Suffix New Word lie + ing = lying die + ing = dying tie + ing = tying
Add ly to change an adjective to an adverb. Here are some examples.
Word Suffix New Word brave + ly = bravely calm + ly = calmly
- If the adjective ends in ic, add al before ly.
Word Al Suffix New Word drastic + al + ly = drastically scientific + al + ly = scientifically
- If the adjective ends in ble, change ble to bly.
Word New Word able ably noble nobly
In a one-syllable word, double the final consonant before a suffix beginning with a vowel.
Word Suffix New Word plan + er = planner big + est = biggest
- Don't double the final consonant if it comes after two vowels or another consonant. For example: failed, stooped, warmer, lasting.
In a word of two or more syllables, double the final consonant only if it is in an accented syllable before a suffix beginning with a vowel. Here are some examples:
Word Suffix New Word defer + ed = deferred resubmit + ing = resubmitting
- Don't double the final consonant if it comes after two vowels or another consonant. For example: obtained, concealed, abducting, commendable.
If a words ends in ic, insert a k after the c.
Word Suffix New Word mimic + ing = mimicking traffic + ing = trafficking
There's only one hint for adding able or ible: an adjective usually ends in -able if you can trace it back to a noun ending in -ation. Sensible is the exception.
Noun Adjective adaptation adaptable commendation commendable
- But there are many words that don't fit this rule, so this isn't the rule to have tattooed on your palm.
Go for the Gusto
In the space provided, spell each misspelled word correctly.
|2. disservice||7. suddenness|
|3. disagreeable||8. costliness|
|4. laziness||9. mislaid|
|5. acreage||10. truly|
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.