In linguistics, a suffix (also sometimes called a postfix or ending or (especially in older literature) affix) is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs. Particularly in the study of Semitic languages, a suffix is called an afformative, as they can alter the form of the words to which they are fixed. In Indo-European studies, a distinction is made between suffixes and endings (see Proto-Indo-European root). A word-final segment that is somewhere between a free morpheme and a bound morpheme is known as a suffixoid or a semi-suffix (e.g., English -like or German -freundlich 'friendly').
Some examples in European languages:
- Girls, where the suffix -s marks the plural.
- He makes, where suffix -s marks the third person singular present tense.
- It closed, where the suffix -ed marks the past tense.
- De beaux jours, where the suffix -x marks the plural.
- Elle est passablement jolie, where the suffix -e marks the feminine form of the adjective.
Inflection changes grammatical properties of a word within its syntactic category. In the example:
- I was hoping the cloth wouldn't fade, but it has faded quite a bit.
the suffix -ed inflects the root-word fade to indicate past tense.
Some inflectional suffixes in present day English:
- -s third person singular present
- -ed past tense
- -t past tense
- -ing progressive/continuous
- -en past participle
- -s plural
- -en plural (irregular)
- -er comparative
- -est superlative
- -n't negative
Some derivational suffixes in modern English:
- Kremer, Marion. 1997. Person reference and gender in translation: a contrastive investigation of English and German. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, p. 69, note 11.
- Marchand, Hans. 1969. The categories and types of present-day English word-formation: A synchronic-diachronic approach. Munich: Beck, pp. 356 ff.
- The Free Online Dictionary