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15.3: More About [s] at the End of Words

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

1. The following words all end with a base that itself ends with the sound [s]. In each case [s] is spelled <ss> or it is spelled <s> with an insulating final <e>. Words marked n. are nouns. Sort the words into the matrix:


2. In bases that end in an [s] sound spelled either <se> or <ss>, if there is a stressed short vowel sound right in front of the final [s], the [s] will be spelled _______. Otherwise, the [s] will be spelled _______ with an insulating _______.

3. Remember: In English we tend to avoid ending words with a single <s> that comes at the end of a base. To keep the single <s> from coming at the end, sometimes we double the <s> (as in fuss or caress). Sometimes we add a final <e> (as in intense or impulse). In words like intense and impulse the final <e> is not marking a long vowel, or a soft <c> or a soft <g> or a voiced <th>. It is just insulating the <s>, keeping it from coming at the end of the base and word.

4. There are four very common bases that end <ss> and that often come at the end of words and free stems. Two of them are free bases: pass, with an original meaning “step, pace”; press, “press, squeeze”. Two of them are bound bases: cess, with an original meaning “go”; miss, with an original meaning “let go, cause to go.”

Each of the following words contains one of these four bases. Analyze the words into their elements as given in the Formula column: ‘P’ means “Prefix,” ‘FB’ means “Free Base,” ‘BB’ means “Bound Base,” ‘S’ means “Suffix”:

Word Formula Analysis
impressively P + B + S1 + S2
submissive P + BB + S
accessed P + BB + S
surpassing P + FB + S
expressive P + FB + S
processor P + BB + S
missiles BB + S1 + S2
passage FB + S
excessive P + BB + S
abscessed P + BB + S
underpass P + FB
trespassing P + FB + S

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Date Created:
Oct 11, 2015
Last Modified:
Apr 22, 2016
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