Suffixes – What are they, function, types, examples and prefixes

We explain what suffixes are, their function, what types exist and which ones are the most used. Also, what are prefixes.

diminutive appreciative suffixes
80% of languages ​​use suffixes, which form words from a root.

What are suffixes?

In the Spanish language, suffixes are a type of morphological particles or morphemes that serve to compose a word, adding to the root (or theme) of it, to add, determine or complete its meanings or meanings. That is to say, are particles that we add to the end of a word to complete or modify its meaning or meaning.

Suffixes are part of the so-called affixes: particles that operate when added within the sequence of a word, either in front (prefixes), in the middle (infixes) or at the end (suffixes). Each of them has particularities and rules of use, and often very different etymological origins.

In the specific case of suffixes, these are particles that generally lack a meaning of their own outside the grammar of the language, and therefore can seldom constitute words by themselves. On the other hand, when joining a lexical root (endowed, it does, with its own referential meaning), the suffixes modify that sense or add a grammatical sense.

For example: the word curse is formed by the root cursed– (prevenient from Latin maledictum, “Say evil”, “wish evil”), where the lexical and semantic content of the word is. That root is missing the suffix -tion to be able to become a noun that denotes action and to exist regularly within the language.

A suffix can even alter the grammatical category of a word, changing nouns into adjectives or these into verbs. They are extremely versatile tools.

Suffixing is a very widespread linguistic process among human languages ​​(80% of them use them to some extent), especially in the process of forming new words, in which different endings can be attached to a root to obtain new ones. results.

Types of suffixes

inflectional suffixes of number
The endings –s and –es are inflectional suffixes of number.

Suffixes in Spanish can be classified in different ways, depending on their historical origin, their original language (in the case of loans), among others. But the most important is the way it distinguishes between its functions by connecting with the root of the word. Thus, we have the following cases:

  • Appreciative suffixes. It is about those suffixes that, when joining the lexeme or root, construct a word with qualifying overtones, that is, that expresses the way in which the person understands, values ​​or observes the referent of which he speaks. This type of suffix converts roots into appreciations (hence its name), and can be, in turn, of different types:
    • Augmentative suffixes. As its name indicates, these suffixes allow to increase or maximize the meaning of the lexical root of the word, either to indicate that the size of an object is large, or that the meaning of something is more intense or stronger, or any other connotation that has, in our culture, something of great size. For example: from “home”, we can get “cas-ota”Adding a suffix that indicates that it is a large house, or very luxurious and very ostentatious.
    • Diminutive suffixes. Contrary to the previous case, this type of suffixes serve to diminish or attenuate the meaning of the lexical root, either because the referent is small in size, in importance, or in some cases because we hold it in esteem. For example: from “favor”, we can get “favor-I quote“Adding a suffix that indicates that the favor is small, that it should not make the other person very uncomfortable.”
    • Pejorative suffixes. In this case, the suffixes serve to fix the personal and subjective position of the person with respect to the referent, especially when it is a negative evaluation of it. For example, from “woman” we can get “woman-zuela“To indicate that we think badly of her, or that she is a woman of bad life.
  • Inflectional suffixes. The inflectional suffixes, unlike the previous ones, do not reflect the evaluations of the referent that a person has, but rather they fulfill an entirely grammatical role. This means that their role makes sense within the language itself, in such a way as to make it describe the object or reality alluded to by the language as well as possible. Thus, we have the following types of inflections:
    • Inflectional suffixes of gender. Gender inflections are those that modify the ending of a word to indicate what gender (masculine or feminine) it refers to. They are generally -to and -or, depending on whether the referent is feminine or masculine, respectively, although sometimes the -and. For example: teacher-or for the male teacher-to for the feminine.
    • Inflectional suffixes of number. Similar to the previous case, the purpose of inflectional numbers is to indicate whether the referent is singular or plural (for this the suffix -s). Thus, using the same example as the previous case, we will have: teacher (singular) or teacher-s (plural). As will be seen, the inflections of gender and number can and usually are accompanied.
    • Verb inflectional suffixes. We will treat as a separate category the inflections that have to do with verbs, and that serve to adapt them to the action they seek to describe. And although we see them separately, they all occur normally at the same time:
      • Verbal person inflections. Those who adhere to the verb to adapt it to a specific conjugation, that is, to indicate which person performs the action, according to the rules established for verbal persons within the language. For example: from the verb “teach” we can obtain “teach-or”(I),“ taught-ace“(You),” teach-to“(You / he / she),” taught– let’s“(We),” teach-an” (them).
      • Flexible mode, time and aspect. As their name indicates, they coordinate the way in which the verb mode, the verb tense and the verbal aspect are expressed, allowing the action of the verb to adapt to the conditions in which it occurs. For example: from the verb “to teach”, we have “teach-to“(Present),” teach-will“(Future),” teach-ba“(Past imperfect),” teach-aria“(Conditional),” teach-to”(Imperative),“ teach-and”(Subjunctive), etc.
      • Impersonal verbal inflections. Finally, there are the incomplete or impersonal verb forms, that is, they do not conjugate, and that is why we list them apart from the others. They are the infinitive (-ar, -er, -to go), the gerund (-ando, -endo) and the participle (-ado, -gone). For example: the verb “teach-ar“(Infinitive),” teach-ando“(Gerundo) or” teach-ado”(Participle).
  • Derivative suffixes. These suffixes are some of the most important, since they allow the grammatical category of the stem to be changed, thus composing new uses and new linguistic forms. This process is known as derivation, and is given by four different types of suffixes, according to the type of grammatical category of destination:
    • Derivatives adjectives or adjectival. Those that allow you to build adjectives from other lexemes. The participle, listed above, is found among this type of suffix as well, as well as all the suffixes of the gentilices. For example: from the verb “fatigue”, we have “fatigue-ado“, And from the noun” farsa “, we have” fars-esco“, As well as the noun” Mexico “we have” mexic-year”.
    • Adverbializing or adverbial derivatives. Those that allow you to build adverbs from other lexemes. For example: from the adjective “shameless”, we have “shameless-a-mind“, And from the noun” dog “, we have” perr-one mind”. Note that in these cases there is usually an inflectional or other type of suffix acting as an infix, that is, an intermediate suffix.
    • Nominalizing derivatives or nominal. Those that allow the construction of nouns from other lexemes. For example: from the verb “postpone”, we have “postpone-tion”.
    • Verbalizing or verbal derivatives. Those that allow the construction of verbs from other lexemes. For example: from the noun “dog”, comes the verb “perr-ear“, And from the adjective” silly “, comes” tont-ear”.

Suffix list

Suffixes are very numerous and diverse in Spanish, as well as their local uses can be very different depending on the geography. But this is a list of the most used suffixes:

-ito, -itaappreciative, diminutivecarr-ito, tac-ita
-ico, -icaappreciative, diminutivebon-ico, cookie-ica
-illo, -illaappreciative, diminutivekid-illo, to lie-illa
-in, -inappreciative, diminutivemalandr-in, little-in
-ote, -otaappreciative, augmentativedog-ote, lengu-ota
-on, -onaappreciative, augmentativewasp-on, cas-ona
-azo, -azaappreciative, augmentativethey dwell-azo, woman-aza
-very, -veryappreciative, augmentativesad-very, bell-very
-zuelo, -zuelaappreciative, contemptuousrobber-zuelo, pla-zuela
-long, -luchaappreciative, contemptuousphone-long, carr-ucha
-oidappreciative, contemptuoussentimental-oid
-astro, -astraappreciative, contemptuouspolitic-star, madr-astra
-a, -o, -e, -as, -os, -esgender and number inflectionschild-to, adult-or, president-and, loc-you, door-ace, judge-it is
-o, -as, -a, -an, -amos, -aisverbal person inflectioni worked-or, I worked-ace, I worked-to, I worked-an, work-ais, etc.
-ar, -er, go, -ado, -ido, -ando, -endoimpersonal verbal inflectionlow-ar, com-er, mor-to go, uncover-ado, I walkedI walk, etc.
-tionderivative, nounpostpone-tion, frustra-tion
-dadderivative, nounwrong-dad, fear-dad
-ezderivative, nounstupid-ez, sordid-ez
-toriumderivative, nounreform-thorium, heal-thorium
-dero, -deraderivative, nounI died-dero, embark-dero
-ero, -wasderivative, adjectivemarin-ero, birthday-was
-ano, -anaderivative, adjectivefrancisc-year, colombi-Ana
-in view ofderivative, adjectivetolerate-in view of, irrit-in view of
-to thederivative, adjectivepoliceto the, origin-to the
-oso, -osaderivative, adjectiveknow-bear, sponsoringbear
-ador, -adoraderivative, adjectiveport-ador, Don-adora
-mindderivative, adverbialsubtle-mind, commercial-mind
-earderivative, verbalnone-ear, volt-ear
-ar, -er, -irderivative, verbalqty-ar, cog-er, bed-to go

Suffixes and prefixes

Suffixes and prefixes are the main types of affixes that exist. They differ from each other in the place they occupy with respect to the lexical root: prefixes are placed before the lexical stem and suffixes after it.

What’s more, prefixes have a higher lexical load, that is, a greater share of their own meaning, and for that reason in many cases they can be used as words in themselves, such as “ex” (something that is no longer) or “pre” (before). Suffixes lack this load of meaning and only have grammatical meaning, that is, they acquire meaning within the context of the language.