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7.4: The Suffixes -ist and -est

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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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 = class + ic + ist
vocalist = voc + al + ist
socialist = soci + al + ist
physicist = phys + ic + ist
journalist = journ + al + ist
publicist = publ + ic + ist
environmentalist = environment + al + ist
nationalist = nation + al + ist
realist = re + al + ist

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 = journalistically
character + ist + ic + al + ly = characteristically
agriculture + al + ist = agriculturalist
colony + l + al + ist = colonialist
fate + al + ist + ic + al + ly = fatalistically
nature + al + ist = naturalist
re + al + ist + ic = realistic
nation + al + ist + ic + al + ly = nationalistically
mechan + ic + al = mechanical
muse + ic + al + ly = musically

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 novelist
Most stubborn stubbornest
One who is on a tour tourist
Most real realest
One who is on vacation vacationist
One who sells drugs druggist
Most cloudy cloudiest
Most nice nicest
One who believes in realism realist
One who raises an orchard orchardist
Most pure purest
One who believes that things should be pure purist
One who rides a bicycle bicyclist
Most mean meanest
One who plays the violin violinist

Teaching Notes.

Item 1. Six of the stems in this table are bound bases, and one is a perhaps surprising free base. The six bound bases are capit “head, wealth”; voc “speak, voice, call”; soci “ally, companion, comrade”; phys “exist, grow”; journ “day, daily”; and publ “people.” The perhaps surprising free base is re. It derives from a Latin word meaning “thing, property.” Used as a preposition it means “in reference to,” but in words like real it carries its earlier sense of “thing”: If something is real, it is thing-y.

Item 2. Be sure the students catch the final <e> deletions and the <y>-to-<i> change.

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