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14.2: The Suffixes ic and -al

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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The Suffixes ic and -al

1. The suffixes -ic and -al can be used to turn nouns into adjectives. Nouns are words that name persons, places, or things and make sense in this blank:

The__________seemed okay.

Adjectives are words that modify or describe nouns and make sense in this blank:

It's a very__________thing.

For instance, prophet is a noun that names a kind of person; it fits in the noun sentence: “The prophet seemed okay.” But if we add the suffix -ic to it, we get prophetic, an adjective that describes nouns and that fits into the adjective sentence: “It's a very prophetic thing.”

Person is also a noun: “The person seemed okay.” But if we add the suffix -al, we get the adjective personal: “It's a very personal thing.”

2. Combine the nouns and suffixes below to make adjectives:

Noun Suffix Adjective
athlete ic athletic
occasion al occasional
profession al professional
patriot ic patriotic
nation al national
rhythm ic rhythmic
echo ic echoic
accident al accidental
education al educational
artist ic artistic

3. Now try it the other way around: Each of the following adjectives consists of a noun and either the suffix -ic or the suffix -al. Analyze each adjective into its noun and suffix. Watch for final <e>'s that have been deleted:

Adjective Noun Suffix
enthusiastic enthusiast ic
democratic democrat ic
universal univers\begin{align*}\cancel{e}\end{align*} al
normal norm al
natural natur\begin{align*}\cancel{e}\end{align*} al
personal person al
rhythmic rhythm ic
agricultural agricultur\begin{align*}\cancel{e}\end{align*} al
heroic hero ic
original origin al

4. Sometimes the suffix -ic is added to a stem, often a bound stem, to make a noun or an adjective: crit + ic = critic. Then the noun will add on the suffix -al to make an adjective: critic + al = critical. Here are some more that follow this pattern:

Adjective Stem Suffix #1 Suffix #2
critical crit ic al
mechanical mechan ic al
medical med ic al
electrical electr ic al
chemical chem ic al
historical histor ic al
technical techn ic al
identical ident ic al
musical mus\begin{align*}\cancel{e}\end{align*} ic al
practical pract ic al

Teaching Notes.

Item 4. The free base muse\begin{align*}^1\end{align*} refers to one of the Greek goddesses of the arts, the muses. It also occurs in museum and music and is related to the base in mosaic. It is not related to the free base muse\begin{align*}^2\end{align*} which probably carries the root meaning “muzzle” and occurred in Old French muser “to ponder or loiter; literally, stay with one's nose in the air.” Muse\begin{align*}^2\end{align*} occurs in amuse, where the root meaning is something like “to cause to stand with one's muzzle in the air, to cause to ponder or loiter.”

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Jul 07, 2015
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