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7.4: The Suffixes -ist and -est

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

The Suffixes -ist and -est

1. The suffix -ist is often used to make nouns by adding it to stems ending with the suffixes -al or -ic. Analyze each of the following words into its stem and two suffixes. Suffix #1 will always be either -al or -ic. All of the words go together by simple addition:

Word = Stem + Suffix#1 Suffix#2
capitalist = capit + al + ist
classicist = + +
vocalist = + +
socialist = + +
physicist = + +
journalist = + +
publicist = + +
environmentalist = + +
nationalist = + +
realist = + +

2. The suffixes -ist, -ic, and -al combine in many different ways. Combine the stems and suffixes you are given below to make new words:

Stem + suffixes = Word
capit + al + ist + ic + al + ly = capitalistically
journ + al + ist + ic + al + ly =
character + ist + ic + al + ly =
agriculture + al + ist =
colony + al + ist =
fate + al + ist + ic + al + ly =
nature + al + ist =
re + al + ist + ic =
nation + al + ist + ic + al + ly =
mechan + ic + al =
muse + ic + al + ly =

3. The suffix -ist can make nouns with the meaning “one that works with or is connected with.” The suffix -est adds the meaning “most” to short adjectives and adverbs - as in calmest, which means “most calm.”

Since both suffixes sound like [ist] or [əst], they can be easily confused when you are trying to spell them. You have to remember not just how they sound, but also what they mean.


Words that end with the suffix -ist always contain the meaning “one that works with or is connected with.”

Words that end with the suffix -est always contain the meaning “most.”

5. Below you are given some definitions. Your job is to spell the words that are being defined. Watch especially for -ist and -est.

Definition Word
A person who writes novels
Most stubborn
One who is on a tour
Most real
One who is on vacation
One who sells drugs
Most cloudy
Most nice
One who believes in realism
One who raises an orchard
Most pure
One who believes that things should be pure
One who rides a bicycle
Most mean
One who plays the violin

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Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

Last Modified:

Jan 16, 2015
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