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13.23: The Suffixes -ance and -ence

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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The Suffixes -ance and -ence

1. The suffixes -ance and -ence are added to verbs and to bound stems to form nouns:

inherit (a verb) + ance = inheritance (a noun)

obedi (a bound base) + ence = obedience (a noun)

2. The suffixes -ance and -ence can create problems for spellers because although they have the same pronunciation, [əns], and the same meaning or function (forming nouns), they have different spellings. There are no simple and absolutely reliable rules for predicting when to use -ance and when to use -ence, but there are some patterns that can help you know when to use -ence.

If you can add [enshəl] (spelled <ential>) to the stem and get a recognizable word, the [əns] is -ence. For instance, if you can't decide between <confidence> and <confidance>, and you replace the [əns] with [enshəl], the result is a word you should recognize: confidential. In any [əns] word that can take [enshəl] this way, you can be sure that the [əns] suffix is -ence.

In the middle column below add [enshəl], spelled <ential>, to the verb in the first column. Then in the right hand column add the correct spelling of [əns}:

Verb Verb + [enshəl] Verb + [əns]
confide confidential confidence
differ
exist
prefer
refer
reside
revere

3. The table below is just like the preceding one except that rather than starting with a verb, you start with a bound stem:

Bound Stem Bound Stem + [enshəl] Bound Stem + [əns]
consequ consequential consequence
evid
experi
influ
sent

4. Another helpful hint is looking at the stem to which the [əns] has been added. If it is a bound stem, you can be fairly certain that the [əns] is -ence. In the right column below add [əns] to the bound stem:

Bound Stem Bound Stem + [əns]
influ influence
consci
consequ
evid
experi
innoc
intellig
obedi
pati
sci
sil
viol

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1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5
Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Jan 16, 2015
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CK.ENG.ENG.SE.1.Basic-Speller.13.23
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