many suffixes get the same meaning,such as development,oppression,their suffixes both mean state,so how do I choose the right suffix without dictionary.

  • 3
    If you know the etymology of the stem you can often make a pretty good guess; but I'm afraid there are no rules. If you don't use a dictionary you have to learn the way native speakers do: by reading and listening. Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 3:06
  • There is no logic system in the word-formation with suffixes because suffixed words came into English from different languages (mainly Latin and French, but also from Greek) at various times. If you know Latin, Greek and French this might be some help, but there is no way for you to predict which suffix is used for suffixed nouns. You have to know the noun beforehand.
    – rogermue
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 17:20

1 Answer 1


By learning each and every word by itself.

I know that's not the answer you want to hear, but the problem with English is that it was invented by a country that was inhabited and invaded over and over again by the French, Romans, Vikings, and Celts.

The -ment suffix is French, the -ion suffix is Latin, the -ing suffix is Germanic, and the -rix suffix is Celtic. There are no rules for learning them without just learning each word as you discover it.

  • (Dude, we use Celtic -rix? In what words? I want this to be true.) Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 11:55
  • Not often, but there're a handful of examples. The most commonly used one is 'Dominatrix' :D
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 11:56
  • Editrix, aviatrix, directrix...theoretically, any word ending in -or (editor, aviator, director, etc.) could have a feminine -rix ending. HOWEVER, I'm not sure the -rix ending is Celtic; I always thought it was a Latinate ending - consider "imperatrix", which is the feminine version of "imperator" ("emperor").
    – stangdon
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 15:34
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    @stangdon After researching it a bit, it appears that -rix was used by the celts: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_onomastics meaning 'ruler', and -trix was used by the Romans to turn a masculine word feminine: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-trix#Latin ... I wonder if Dominatrix is actually a very clever pun on etymology?
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 15:38

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