Thursday, July 7, 2011

ESL Spelling Tip: Adding Suffixes

Sometimes, an ending can be added to the end of a word to make a new word. We call this ending a suffix. A suffix contains one or more letters. Sometimes, adding a suffix will change the word’s part of speech. 

Following are some skills that could be taught to non-native English speaking students to help them properly spell words with suffixes.

1)  In a short vowel word ending in a single consonant, that same consonant must be doubled before adding the suffixes -ing, -ed, -er, or -est.

           r   u  n         r u n n e r                        h  o  p           h o p p i n g

Note: If a word ends in an x, simply add the suffix since x has two sounds: /ks/.

           w a x         w a x i n g                         f i x               f i x e d

2)  If a short vowel word already has two consonants at the end of the word, simply add the suffix.

          j  u  m  p       j u m p i n g                      h  u  n  t        h u n t e d

3)  To add suffixes to words that end in a vowel, just add the suffix.
          g  o              g o i n g                            be                being

4)  When adding the suffixes –ing, –ed, –er, or –est to silent e words, drop the silent e, and add the suffix.

         s m i l e                   s m i l i n g                       p i l e            p i l e d

Note: When adding suffixes that do not end in i or e, such as -able, -ness, -ful, and -less, the silent e must remain to maintain the vowel sound in the base word.

5)  When adding the suffixes –ing, –ed, –er, or –est to adjacent vowel words, simply add the suffix.

          b o a t                     b o a t i n g                       m a i l                     m a i l i n g

Note: You may want to explain how each suffix affects a word:
-ING: When accompanied by the be verb, the -ing ending creates the present progressive form of a verb. It means the action is in progress: Help her! She’s slipping on the wet grass.
-ED: Creates the past tense form of a verb. It means the action happened in the past: She slipped on the wet grass last night.
-ER: Creates the comparative form of an adjective: This dog is smaller than that dog. Creates a noun from a verb: She runs every day. She is a runner.

-EST: Creates the superlative form of an adjective: This dog is the smallest dog I've ever seen.

For a list of other common prefixes, click here.

Adapted from the Decoding Strategies for Literacy Development Teacher's Manual published by Reading Horizons. Used with permission.

For additional ESL teaching tips:
Click here to read about the pronunciation of -ed.
Click here to read about pronouncing plurals.
Click here to read about voiced and voiceless sounds.
Click here to read about rising and falling intonation in questions.
Click here to read about syllable stress and the schwa.
Click here to read about adding the suffixes -ing, -ed, -er, and -est.
Click here to read about teaching common prefixes. 
Click here to read about decoding multi-syllabic words. 
Click here to read about spelling words that end in S, F, and Z.
Click here to read about other sounds for c and g.

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