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8.7: Suffixes Spelled <en>

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Suffixes Spelled <en>

1. You have seen that we have two suffixes spelled <er>: One adds the meaning “more” to adjectives: The adjective calm plus -er becomes calmer, “more calm.” The other changes verbs to nouns with the meaning “one that does”, so a teacher is one who teaches and a computer is something that computes.

When two different words or elements are spelled the same but have different meanings, they are called homographs. The base homo+ means “same”, and the base graph means “letter or writing.” So homographs are words or elements that have the same letters or spellings but different meanings.

Because homographs look the same, it can be easy to overlook important differences in what they mean. Homographs remind us that we always have to worry not just about sounds and spellings but also about meanings.

A good example of homographs are the different suffixes that are all spelled <en>. There are five of them. We'll discuss three in this lesson, the other two in the next.

2. -en “more than one.” Long ago the English sometimes used -en to form plurals just as we use -s today. Only three words still have the old -en plural: oxen, children, and brethren.

3. -en “consisting of.” This suffix turns nouns into adjectives: The noun wax plus the suffix -en gives us the adjective waxen.

One way to describe a noun is to say that it is the name of a person, place, or thing. Another way is to say that it makes sense when we put it into the blank of this sentence: “The _____________ seemed okay.” Any word that makes sense in that blank is a noun. For instance, “The gold seemed okay.”

An adjective is a word that describes or identifies a noun. Any word is an adjective if it will fit into this blank and make sense: The ___________ thing seemed okay. For instance, “The golden thing seemed okay.

Adjective = Noun + Suffix
golden = gold + en
waxen = +
earthen = +
wooden = +
woolen = +

4. -en, turns adjectives into verbs. For example, the adjective bright plus -en gives us the verb brighten.

The following are three different ways of describing a verb:

1. A verb is a word that changes its spelling and pronunciation to show a change in time: “Yesterday it seemed okay” vs. “Right now it seems okay.”

2. A verb is a word that shows action or a state of being.

3. Most verbs will make sense in one of the following blanks:

“They ________________ okay.”


“It ________________ okay.”

Verb = Adjective = Suffix
brighten = bright + en
darken = +
deepan = +
fatten = +
flatten = +
harden = +
lighten = +
moisten = +

5. Now try some the other way around, showing any changes:

Adjective + Suffix = Verb
sad + en =
sharp + en =
short + en =
sick + en =
soft + en =
straight + en =
sweet + en =
thick + en =
tight + en =
tough + en =
weak + en =
wide + en =

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Oct 09, 2015
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