I know that most of verbs can be transformed into noun or thing, which does the action.

But why are there many words that stay as they are and the suffix “er” cannot be attached to them.

For instance,

Teach ———-> teacher

Seek—————> seeker

Kill——————> killer

But the following noun stay as they are

  • Judge————> judge (the person who judge)
  • Guide ————> guide (the person who guide)
  • Delegate ———> delegate (the person who is delegated)

Why these nouns, for example, don’t turn into:

  • 1) judger
  • 2) guider
  • 3) delegator

Is there any rule to follow to determine whether a verb takes er or stays as it is to convey the meaning of a person doing that specific job or action?

  • 1
    In the case of delegate, those are homographs only in some dialects. The final vowel sound is a schwa in the noun, and [eɪ] (the vowel in 'say') in the verb. Also, a delegate isn't the agent for the verb to delegate, they are the one who is delegated to. Delegator is attested, as one who delegates.
    – SamBC
    Feb 14, 2019 at 23:28
  • I thought this might be a result of the different origins of English words - for instance, judge, guide and delegate all came to English through French or Latin, while teach, seek and kill are Germanic. However, there are counter examples: French view/viewer, dance/dancer and Germanic cook/cook.
    – Juhasz
    Feb 15, 2019 at 0:04

1 Answer 1


As far as I'm aware, this is just a matter of knowing the vocabulary. The -er/-or form is used when there is no distinct word for the agent.

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