2

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-ee#English:

  1. Added to verbs to form words meaning a person or thing that is the object of that verb
  2. Less commonly added to verbs to form words meaning a person or thing that is the subject of that verb (ie, who or that [acts]), especially where a passive sense of the verb is implied.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-or#Suffix:

  1. Suffix appended to words to create an agent noun, indicating a person who does something.
  1. Does definition 2 of -ee, equal, definition 1 of -or? So there's no difference between -ee and -or?
  2. Based on these suffixes, my goal is to infer instantly (on sight) whether a noun refers to the doer or receiver of an action. What are the general lessons or tips?

  3. Would someone please explain a passive sense of the verb is implied? Does this define the less common cases in which Definition 2 of -ee applies?

Source: p 67, The English Legal System 2012-2013, Gary Slapper

  • Your quoted definitions show the -ee is used for the object of an action, and -or for the subject. What is unclear about that difference? By the way, -er is, I think more common than -or. If I address you, I am the addresser, you are the addressee. In a case of aggression, A beats up B, A is the aggressor, B an be described as the aggressee (although that is very rare). – oerkelens Aug 26 '14 at 8:03
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    @oerkelens If you look at the links, you will find "absentee" and "respondee", which are the subjects but use -ee – fluffy Aug 26 '14 at 11:23
  • "Source: p 67, The English Legal System 2012-2013, Gary Slapper" That is the source of what exactly? Is there any reason that wiktionary's 3rd meaning (legal) does not apply in your legal source? – oerkelens Aug 26 '14 at 11:50
  • @fluffy: indeed, so it seems. Where I can still see "absentee" as the object of the absence (passively: the absence happens to the absentee), I would not interpret respondee as responder but actually the opposite. Can't say I have stumbled across that word until today either... – oerkelens Aug 26 '14 at 11:52
2

Both suffixes create a noun from a verb. Only an active verb can use -er/-or, and it denotes the person or thing causing the activity, or, in some cases, the thing/device/tool whose primary purpose is to perform an action.

Example: A scrubber can be a person who scrubs or a tool for scrubbing.

The -ee suffix is the recipient of an action. It may also be a person or inanimate object. It's not technically incorrect to use it with any active verb, but it will usually sound weird to most people, so be aware of that.

Example: Jill attacks Jim. Jill is the attacker; Jim is the attackee.

Passive voice got you confused? Let's reword the example.

Jim was attacked by Jill. Jill is still the attacker, even though Jim is now in the subject position of the sentence!

In the instance of absentee, the root word is absent, which is an adjective, and thus an exception to the normal usage. Just remember there is no such thing as an "absenter."

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1 Does definition 2 of -ee, equal, definition 1 of -or? So there's no difference between -ee and -or?

In some very very very specific cases, indeed, there seems no difference. Well, between -ee and -er, as in responder and respondee, which mean the same.

2 Based on these suffixes, my goal is to infer instantly (on sight) whether a noun refers to the doer or receiver of an action. What are the general lessons or tips?

Rule: -ee is the receiver (subject of the action). Unfortunately, there are exceptions (of which absentee is probably the most common).

3 Would someone please explain a passive sense of the verb is implied? Does this define the less common cases in which Definition 2 of -ee applies?

I can see that in absentee, but it is vague at best. I can imagine interpreting an absence as something happing to the person that is absent.

As for standee (never saw it, but google tells me it means "a person who stands, especially in a passenger vehicle when all the seats are occupied or at a performance or sporting event" could be seen as derived from being stood somewhere as opposed to standing somewhere, which yields stander (as in bystander).

1

The nouns ending in -or are traditional Latin words. Nouns in -ee are new formations formed with the French suffix -é, written in English as -ee. Nouns in -ee came up in legal language.

  • In French, is the masculine form, and -ée the feminine form? – Jasper Sep 30 at 17:30

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