A brief introduction to the English Suffix—ive


校园英语·中旬 2017年3期


【Abstract】Affix is the key to the treasures of the words. Affixation plays a vital role in the development of the English language. It enlarges the word system, at the same time enriches the expression of the language. The purpose of this paper is a brief introduction to the derivational suffix –ive. And try to find some rules for the study of English words easily. This paper takes one of the most important suffix –ive as an example to discuss its origin, characters, its grammatical features, as well as the possible exceptions.

【Key words】suffix; origin; grammatical features; exception

1. The characteristics of derivational suffixes

Now lets talk about the characteristics of derivational suffixes. Firstly, suffixation is a method of forming new words. Secondly, the same word with different suffixes could have different lexical meanings. For example, imaginative means the subject is full of imagination), imaginable (means sth. could be imagined.) We could trace the origin of the word through the suffixes. For instance, if we add suffixes to the nouns, the nouns will become adjectives. Therefore, we could trace the origin of the words through their derivational suffixes. In addition, the study of derivational suffixes could help us enlarge our knowledge of words. A large number of the English words are formed by suffixation. Take the adjective as an example, there are almost 30 different suffixes. In this connection, the study of suffixes could help us enrich our knowledge of words and promote the communication ability of us.

2. The classification of adjective and its suffixes

Adjective plays a vital role in the field of morphology. It is a very important word class that must be studied in the practical usage of language as well. In general English adjectives could be divided into four different kinds. They are general adjectives, compound adjectives, transferred adjectives as well as adjectives used as nouns. In English, there are almost 30 different suffixes that could be added to nouns or verbs to form adjectives. For example, suffixes like-able-ible-an-ant-ent-ed-en-fu-ive could be added to roots or stems to form adjectives.

3. The grammatical features of the suffix -ive

From the foregoing description, we have known that more than 30 suffixes could be added to nouns or verbs to form different adjectives. However, different suffixes added to the same root or stem, may produce words with different lexical meanings. Now please see the following words with the same root but different suffixes. Passive:not reaching visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of an emotional of feeling; Passless:not capable of being passed. From the foregoing examples, we know that the suffix – ive refers to having to do sth. or having the quality of / tendency to sth. It is always added to the verbs with t / e as endings. When the verb ends with t, we directly add –ive to the end to form adjective. Besides the foregoing examples, I find that the verbs there that could be added –ive to form adjectives are those which are transitive verbs. In addition, those transitive verbs must have one object. As for those words like make, we could not add –ive to their back to form adjectives. Derivational suffixes like –ful, -ly, -less are added to nouns to form adjectives. For example, fruit–fruitful, beauty–beautiful, friend–friendly, power–powerless. However, derivational suffixes like–able as well as–ive(-ative) are added to the end of verbs to form adjectives.

4. Summary

Since this is only a brief introduction of the English derivational suffix –ive, there might be some unreasonable and limitations in my paper. I hope my discussion will help more students and English lovers to master more English words easily. And at the same time, I hope teachers will learn more about the affixes, and try to find some rules and methods for students to learn English word happily and without any difficulty.


[1]Wayne ONeil Linguistics and Applied Linguistics Shandong University.

[2]Costello Robert B.1990 Websters College Dictionary Random House inc.

[3]Woolf Henry 1977 Websters New College Dictionary G&C Merrian co.

[4]C.T.Ollions 1966 The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology Oxford University Press.


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