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11.9: The Suffix -ive

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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The Suffix -ive

1. The suffix -ive changes nouns and verbs into adjectives. It adds the meaning “tending to” or “doing” or “being.” Each of the following words consists of a verb or noun plus the suffix -ive. Analyze each one. Be sure to show any cases where a silent final <e> was deleted:

Adjective = Noun or verb + Suffix
defensive = defens\begin{align*}\cancel{e}\end{align*} + ive
massive = mass + ive
excessive = excess + ive
supportive = support + ive
reflective = reflect + ive
effective = effect + ive
directive = direct + ive
exhaustive = exhaust + ive
detective = detect + ive
narrative = narrat\begin{align*}\cancel{e}\end{align*} + ive
disruptive = disrupt + ive
subjective = subject + ive
active = act + ive
attractive = attract + ive
retrospective = retrospect + ive

2. Here are some the other way around. Combine the elements to make adjectives. Show any changes that occur when the elements combine:

Elements = Adjective
ex + cess + ive = excessive
intro + spect + ive = introspective
ob + struct + ive = obstructive
retro + spect + ive = retrospective
ob + ject + ive = objective
ad + gress + ive = aggressive
sub + ject + ive = subjective
re + strict + ive = restrictive
re + cept + ive = receptive
per + cept + ive = perceptive
de + fect + ive = defective
ex + \begin{align*}\cancel{\mathrm{s}}\end{align*} ecut \begin{align*}\cancel{\mathrm{e}}\end{align*} + ive = executive
dis + rupt + ive = disruptive

3. Some adjectives are formed not by adding -ive to nouns or verbs, but rather to bound stems. Each of the bound stems is related to a verb that is spelled slightly differently from the bound stem. (Usually verb has a <d> where the bound stem has an \begin{align*}<\mathrm{s}>\end{align*}.) Combine the following bound stems and suffixes to make adjectives, and then in the right hand column write the related verb:

Bound stem + suffix = Adjective Related Verb
extens + ive = extensive extend
attent + ive = attentive attend
inclus + ive = inclusive include
exclus + ive = exclusive exclude
explos + ive = explosive explode

4. Often an adjective that ends in -ive comes to be used also as a noun. For instance, the verb execute becomes the adjective executive, which is then used as a noun, as in “She is an executive in a computer company.” In the tables in this lesson there are at least six adjectives that end in -ive and can also be used as nouns. See how many you can find:

\begin{align*}& detective && executive && objective \\ & directive && narrative && retrospective\end{align*}

Teaching Notes.

Item 1. All of those <t>'s at the end of the nouns and verbs are echoes from Latin's rather complicated inflectional system. Usually the <t>'s are from the Latin past participle form of a certain class of verbs.

Item 3. Again we have an echo of Latin word structure: Here to \begin{align*}<\mathrm{s}>\end{align*} echoes the Latin past participle form of a certain class of verbs while the <d> echoes the Latin infinitve form.

Item 4. Students may feel that certain -ive words can be used as nouns, even though the dictionaries show them as only adjectives. The process of conversion from adjective to noun is still going on. Sometimes the dictionaries can't keep up with the changes. If youngsters claim that a word is a noun and the dictionary says that it is an adjective only, ask them to compose a sentence that makes sense using that word as a noun. If they can, then I'd call it a noun, in spite of the dictionaries. For instance, the dictionaries show attentive as adjective only, but to my ears it would be good sense and good grammar to say something like, “Only the attentive will be allowed to outside for recess.” This is another example of the richness and flexibility of our language.

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