English Vocabulary With Affixes: Using Affixes to Make Adjectives

This is the fourth and final post (for now) in my affixes series. There are a lot more affixes in English than I’ve covered here, but as this part of the series wraps up the list over on UEFAP, it feels like a natural stopping point.

This post will cover using both prefixes and suffixes to create new adjectives, as well as their Swedish equivalents.

1. Noun + Suffix = Adjective; Verb + Suffix = Adjective

Suffix Meaning Swedish equivalent
-al relating to a noun (central, professional) -al (central), -ell (professionell), -sk (politisk)
-ive relating to a verb (imaginative, effective) -iv (attraktiv)
-ful having or being full of a noun (beautiful, careful) -full (fridfull)*
-less lacking a noun (endless, homeless) -lös (tanklös)*
-able / -ible to be able to verb (drinkable, countable) -bar (ätbar)*

*indicates a group of adjectives that often have -lig or –ig adjective endings in Swedish

2. Negative Prefix + Adjective = Opposite Adjective

Note that all of these prefixes have the same essential meaning and job—to reverse the meaning of the root word. It’s simply that some root words take one prefix and some take another. To avoid redundancy, I’ve omitted the middle column for this last table.

Prefix Swedish equivalent
im-/in-/ir-/il- (immature, inconvenient, irreplaceable, illegal) o- (omjölig)
non- (non-fiction, non-political) o- (obefintlig), non- (nonstop), icke (a full-fledged word, not a suffix)
dis- (disloyal, dissimilar) o- (oärlig)
un- (unfortunate, uncomfortable) o- (orättvist)

Though you can see that this whole table is largely redundant, as a large number of English prefixes fall under the o- umbrella in Swedish. This certainly simplifies things for English-speaking learners of Swedish, but complicates things for Swedish-speaking learners of English!

There is much more to English affixes than what I’ve been able to cover so far, of course. And I’m far from an expert in either linguistics or Swedish! As I progress in my own studies, I will update here. Good luck with your own learning!

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