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Thursday, 08 April 2010 07:27

Intermediate - Word Formation Suffices -ful -less

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English grammar lesson on-line for intermediate level students - In this immediate lesson we look at how to create adjectives from nouns and verbs by adding the suffixes -ful and -less

The suffix -ful has been derived from the English word "full" and the literal meaning is "full of". Some meanings are can be a little more abstract and it may be harder to understand the meaning the first time you meet these words. For example the suffix -ful can also mean "characterised by or given, able or tending to be something".

NOTE: the suffix -ful is written with only one 'l'.

  • Bill is hopeful of receiving a job offer. - Literally "Bob is full of hope".
  • Mary brought in an armful of washing. - Literally "Mary's arm are full".
  • We ate a wonderful meal in the new Japanese restaurant.  - "Full of wonder" is not the right meaning here. 'Excellent' is a better translation.

The suffix -less has been derived from the English word "less" and the literal meaning is "without" or "lacking". Some meanings are more abstract. For example the suffix -less can mean "unable to act or be acted on in a specified way".

  • The liquid produced in the reaction is colourless. - Literally "without colour".
  • His addiction ruined his life. He lost everything and eventually became homeless. - Literally "without a home".
  • Susan really hurt Tony's feeling with that comment. She can be so thoughtless sometimes. - Literally "without a thought", although better translated as "inconsiderate".

Often the suffices -ful and -less and be found in pairs:

  • thought —→ thoughtful : thoughtless
  • help —→ helpful : helpless
  • law —→ lawful : lawless

However there are many case when the adjective ending in -ful does not have the corresponding adjective ending in -less and vice versa

  • sleep —→ sleepful : sleepless
  • beauty —→ beautiful : beautiless

NOTE: it is more common for the adjective ending in -less not to have the corresponding adjective ending in -ful.

Read 37806 times Last modified on Friday, 04 June 2010 07:35

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