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Noun suffixes
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Yee from Hong Kong writes:

I'm not sure how the suffix -ness works. Can we add -ness to all types of words to make nouns? Thanks for your answer.

Roger Woodham replies:
  -ness (nouns from adjectives)

-ness is one of a number of noun suffixes. It is used to make nouns from adjectives, although not every adjective can be modified in this way. Here are some common adjectives whose noun forms are made by adding -ness:

happy sad weak good ready tidy forgetful

Note the spelling change to adjectives that end in -y:

  • Everybody deserves happiness in their life. To be happy is a basic human right.

  • There was a lot of sadness in the office when people learned of his illness.

  • His readiness to have a personal word with everybody at the funeral was much appreciated.

  • He is such a forgetful person. Such forgetfulness cannot be excused.

  • If you want to work for such an organisation, you are expected to maintain a high standard of tidiness in your appearance.
 
   

-ity (nouns from adjectives)

-ity is another noun suffix that is formed from adjectives. Here are some adjectives whose noun forms are made in this way:

possible probable responsible complex hilarious scarce

Note the spelling changes that occur in these conversions:

  • Everything was possible, but the probability, or even possibility, of Jason returning home unharmed was remote.

  • I was given a great deal of responsibility in my new job.

  • It was a complex operation but such complexities are common in cardiac surgery.

  • Her behaviour was hilarious but hilarity is not easily tolerated in a convent school.

  • The scarcity of water was serious, but all natural resources were scarce.
 
    -tion / -sion (nouns from verbs)

-tion, or, less frequently -sion (both pronounced with a 'sh' sound on the initial letter) are noun suffixes that are used to make nouns from verbs. Here are some common verbs whose noun forms are made by adding -tion:

admit alter inform decide describe multiply

Note that adjustments that are necessary to the spelling in each case:

  • He admitted he had lied and this admission landed him in court.

  • The dress will have to be altered and I'm going to have the alteration done professionally.

  • I informed the police that I had seen one of the robbers in Margate and this information led to the arrest of the gang.

  • I decided to give myself up. The decision was easy. My description was in all the newspapers. And I had been on the run for three weeks.

  • Multiplication is the easiest part of arithmetic - much easier than addition, subtraction or division.
 
-ment (nouns from verbs and adjectives)

-ment is another suffix that is used to make nouns from verbs and occasionally from adjectives:

enjoy replace appoint arrange merry
  • Enjoyment is the most important thing in life and you simply don't know how to enjoy yourself.

  • You will need to replace the broken part and unfortunately replacements cost £350.

  • I don't know if I shall be appointed to the job but I have an appointment to see the manager this morning.

  • I had arranged to be there early so that all the arrangements would be in place by the time Yuan arrived.

  • Everyone was quite merry by now. Such merriment had not been seen in my mother's house for a long time.
-ance / -ence (nouns from adjectives and verbs)

-ance and -ence are suffixes that are used to make nouns from adjectives and sometimes from verbs:

absent silent independent important admit appear exist
  • Her absence was not noticed during the silence of prayer.

  • The importance of independence for teenagers should not be underestimated.

  • Admittance to the theatre is not permitted once the show has started.

  • His appearance did not permit him to be admitted.

  • His existence as a writer was threatened when people stopped buying his books.
more restrictive noun suffixes (nouns from nouns)

-ship (abstract nouns denoting different kinds of relationships)

relationship friendship partnership membership
  • His friendship with Carole slowly turned into a relationship.

  • I'm going to go into partnership with SIP and that will automatically give me membership of the golf club.

-hood (abstract nouns denoting different kinds of 'families')

childhood motherhood neighbourhood priesthood
  • Childhood and motherhood/fatherhood are two very important stages in our lives.

  • The neighbourhood was extremely quiet and the priesthood was attractive to many in this peaceful environment
   

If you would like more practice more please visit our Message Board in the You, Me and Us part of our website.

     
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