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Formation of adjectives

There are no rules to help you recognize adjectives by their forms. But many adjectives are formed from other words by adding prefixes or suffixes.

Suffixes

Suffixes are added to the end of words and change grammatical category of the words. Here are some examples of suffixes:

Suffix
Examples
-able/-ible
admirable, acceptable, visible, horrible
-al
musical, historical, comical, magical
-ful
beautiful, forgetful, colourful, powerful
-ic
scenic, economic, romantic, Arabic
-ical
political, historical, satirical
-ish
Swedish, childish, Spanish, foolish
-ive/-ative
attractive, creative, imaginative
-less
friendless, meaningless, effortless
-ous
dangerous, poisonous, mountainous
-y
angry, dusty, cloudy, sticky
-ed
bored, excited, talented, tired
-ing
interesting, exciting, tiring

Adjectives can be made from nouns or verbs.

Noun to Adjective


beauty
beautiful
friend
friendless
danger
dangerous
dust
dusty

Verb to Adjective


break
breakable
use
useful
create
creative
wash
washable

Prefixes

Prefixes are added to the beginning of adjectives to change their meanings. The prefixes un-, in-, ir-, im-, and il- are often confused because they all mean not and opposite of.

Prefix
Examples
un-
unhappy, unimportant, unrealistic
in-
incomplete, infinite, inactive
ir-
irrelevant, irregular, irrational
im-
impossible, improper, immature
il-
illegal, illogical, illegible

Suffixes and spelling rules

Change the y to i before the suffix -ful
  • beauty beautiful
  • plenty → plentiful

If the adjective ends in a vowel+y, do not change the y.
  • joy → joyful

Drop the y before the suffixes -ous/-ious and-ic.
  • mystery → mysterious
  • history → historic


Adjectives formed with suffix

Grammar Cards

Formation of adjectives

Formation of adjectives

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