English Vocabulary With Affixes: Using Suffixes to Make New Nouns

This is the next part in my series on English affixes and their Swedish equivalents. You can start with part 1 (an introduction, and using prefixes to alter verb meanings), and also check out part 2 (using prefixes to create new nouns). This time, I’m focusing on creating new nouns out of a verbnoun, or adjective by way of a suffix. This process can be classified into three groups: nouns from verbs, nouns from other nouns, and nouns from adjectives.

I’ve taken the English list from UEFAP, but all of the Swedish translations are my own. This and all other posts on affixes will probably be edited as my Swedish improves. Sometimes there’s not really a Swedish equivalent; in those cases, I just skip to the next. Also note that there is rarely a true 1-to-1 correspondence; what I list here are what (in my experience) are the most common equivalents.

1. Verb + Suffix = Noun

English suffix Meaning Swedish equivalent
-tion,  -sion an action/instance of the verb (alteration, demonstration) -tion (dedikation)
-er a person who does the verb / something used for the verb (advertiser, silencer) -ör (redaktör), -are (ägare)
-ment an instance of the verb (development, punishment) -ing (utnämning)
-ant,   -ent a person who performs the verb (assistant, student) -ent (student), -ant (officiant)
-ence, -ance the act of the verb, or the result of the verb (dependence, endurance) -ans (acceptans)*
-ery,   -ry an action or instance of the verb (bribery) or a place where the verb happens (bakery) -eri (raffinaderi)*

*indicates a suffix that is often also -ing in Swedish, instead of a close 1-to-1 correspondence with English

2. Noun + Suffix = New Noun

English suffix Meaning Swedish equivalent
-er person associated with the noun (astronomer, geographer) -are (juvelerlare)*
-ist person associated with the noun (biologist, scientist) -ist (buddist)*
-ism doctrine of a noun (Maoism, materialism) -ism (buddism, marxism)
-ship state of being the noun (friendship, citizenship) -skap (ledarskap)

*indicates situations where, if the base noun ends in “i,” the “i” is removed but no suffix is added (astronomi -> astronom, biologi -> biolog)

3. Adjective + Suffix = Noun

English suffix Meaning Swedish equivalent
-ity, -ness, -cy state or quality of being the adjective (ability, similarity) -het (nyfikenhet, gulhet), -itet (graviditet)

To a lesser extent in this category you see -skap (beredskap), -ing (besittning), and a handful of others, but in my experience -het and -itet are the most common.

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