Spanish Suffixes: Another Meeting Point for English and Spanish (Part 1)

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Another special kind of particles shared by English and Spanish are suffixes, used to build new words by being placed at the end of the stem of nouns, adjectives, verbs or adverbs.

These affixes work in one of two ways: either by conferring gramatical information to that word with an inflectional suffix—like when adding an -s at the end of a singular noun to turn it into plural—or by giving it lexical information with a derivational suffix.

In this blog, we are going to explore the derivational ones and how they appear in both languages. You will notice once again the many similarities between English and Spanish in this regard, even though they may not be obvious at first in some cases.

Let’s start with three of the most common suffixes in both English and Spanish.



English equivalent: -ise/-ize

Usage: Generally, to change a noun into a verb expressing the idea of creating the modified word or generating the feeling or attitude denoted by it. The verb created from it is normally a transitive one.

Examples: Spa. “carbonizar” from “carbón”, like Eng. “carbonize” from “carbon”; “idealizar” from “ideal”, like “idealize” from “ideal”; “hospitalizar” from “hospital”, like “hospitalize” from “hospital”.



English equivalent: -fy/-ify; in some case, -ise/-ize

Usage: To change a noun into a verb expressing the idea of making or producing the modified word. The verb created tends to be a transitive one as well. There are cases where a word ending in -ficar in Spanish has an equivalent English word ending in -fy, like “horrorizar” and “horrify” from “horror”.

Examples: “edificar” and “edify” from Latin “aedificāre”; “pacificar” and “pacify” from Latin “pacificāre”; “petrificar” and “petrify” from Latin “petrificare”; “codificar” from “código”, like “codify” from “code”.



English equivalent: -ism

Usage: To change a noun or adjective into another noun that conveys the idea of attitude related to, tendency towards or quality pertaining to the modified noun. Also, as a way of naming an organized activity, a scientific term, a school of thought, a doctrine or a system described in some way through the modified noun.

Examples: “racismo” from “raza” and “racism” from “race”; “coloquialismo” from “coloquial” and “colloquialism” from “colloquial”; “heroismo” from “héroe” and “heroism” from “heroe”; “extremismo” from “extremo” and “extremism” from “extreme”.


As always, stay tuned for the next part of our blog dedicated to suffixes.


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