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Another Suffix with <ss>

1. You've seen that in many words the sound [s] is spelled <ss> in the suffixes -less and -ness. Another suffix that ends <ss> is -ess, which adds the meaning “female, feminine” to nouns: host “male” + ess = hostess “female”

Today we are less anxious to distinguish between males and females in our words than people were in the past. Some people find words ending in -ess to be offensive, and many of the -ess words are falling out of use. But we still do use a number of words that contain -ess and thus the <ss> spelling of [s].

Analyze each of the following nouns into stem noun and suffix. Show any changes that took place when the suffix and stem combined:

Noun = Stem Noun + Suffix
hostess = host + ess
lioness = +
goddess = +
princess = +
countess = +
poetess = +

2. Now try some the other away around. Add the suffix -ess to the stem nouns to form new nouns, showing any changes:

Stem Noun + Suffix = Noun
priest + =
giant + =
steward + =
shepherd + =
prince + =
god + =

3. Sometimes, when -ess is added to a male noun that ends in the suffixes -er or -or, an unusual deletion occurs: waiter + ess = wait\cancel{e}r + ess = waitress; actor + ess = act\cancel{o}r + ess = actress. In these cases when the -ess is added, we delete the <e> or <o> in front of the final <r>. Analyze the following words to show that change:

Noun = Stem Noun + Suffix
waitress = wait\cancel{e}r + ess
actress = act\cancel{o}r + ess
tigress = +
huntress = +
enchantress = +
eldress = +
tempter = +
mister = +

4. In the male nouns ending in -er or -or that you have worked with so far, the -ess was added to the male noun. Sometimes, however, the -ess is added to the same stem to which the -er or -or is added to form the male noun, as with the stem sorcer in the table below. Write out the male and female nouns in the two right hand columns and be ready to talk about any changes that too place:

Stem Male Noun: Stem plus -er or -or Female Noun: Stem plus -ess
sorcer sorcerer sorceress

actress (8:4:2)

adventurer (8:4:2)

adventuress (8:4:2)

countess (8:4:1)

eldress (8:4:2)

enchantress (8:4:2)

giantess (8:4:1)

goddess (8:4:1)

governess (8:4:2)

governor (8:4:2)

hostess (8:4:1)

huntress (8:4:2)

laundress (8:4:2)

lioness (8:4:1)

mister (8:4:2)

murderer (8:4:2)

murderess (8:4:2)

poetess (8:4:1)

princess (8:4:1)

shepherdess (8:4:1)

sorcerer (8:4:2)

sorceress (8:4:2)

stewardess (8:4:1)

tempter (8:4:2)

tigress (8:4:2)

waitress (8:4:2)

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Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

Last Modified:

Apr 29, 2014
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