How to use the suffix EN Increase vocabulary + video (2021)

How to use the suffix EN
A quick guide

suffix EN – nouns to verbs
If you suffer from lower back pain you should do exercises that strengthen your core muscles. [The noun strength becomes the verb strengthen]
suffix EN – adjectives to verbs
The new skylight really brightens the room. [The adjective bright becomes the verb brighten]
suffix EN – nouns to adjectives
I just bought a new wooden coffee table for my living room. [The noun wood becomes the adjective wooden]
suffix EN – past participles
My iPhone is broken. [Broken is the past participle of the verb TO BREAK]
suffix EN – plural nouns
What time do the children finish school? [Children is the plural form of the countable noun child]

Keep reading for more explanations and examples.

Learn the English suffix EN

In this post, I will explain how to use the English suffix EN. Many English words use suffixes. If we learn to use English suffixes, we can increase our vocabulary. Use the video in this post to review the grammar and improve your English listening skills.

What is a suffix?

A suffix is an addition to the end of a word, that gives the word a new meaning. Here is an example:


en is an example of an English suffix. If we know the root word and the function of the suffix, we can easily increase our vocabulary. Let’s use the noun length for our first example:

length (noun) means – the size or measurement of something from one end to the other (how long something is)

The waist of my jeans is okay, but I’m not happy with the length. They are too short.

One function of the English suffix en is to change adjectives or nouns into verbs.
lengthen (verb) means – to make longer

long – adjective

“An elephant’s nose is long.”

long – adverb (used with time)

How long did you stay in New York.

lengthen – verb

My mom had to lengthen my suit pants as I grew taller.

long shot – idiom = something is unlikely

I’m going to apply for the new division manager job. Getting the job is a long shot but I want to try.

There is only a small chance that I will get the job. It is unlikely.

As I said above, one of the functions of the English suffix en is to change adjectives or nouns into verbs.
Be careful! The opposite of lengthen is shorten! Short is an adjective and length is a noun.

shorten (verb) means – to make shorter

English Suffix -EN lengthen shorten

suffix EN – nouns to verbs (more examples)

To make something taller (give it more height [noun]) or rise to a higher level we can use the verb heighten

After the attack the embassy has decided to heighten security.

Increase the level of security.

To make something stronger (give it more strength [noun]) we can use the verb strengthen.

If you suffer from lower back pain you should do exercises that strengthen your core muscles.

You should do exercises that make your stomach and lower back muscles stronger.
English Suffix -EN strengthen

suffix EN – past participles

Some verbs use the suffix EN to make their past participle form.

take – took – taken

choose – chose – chosen

break – broke – broken

We can also use the past participle verb form as an adjective. Remember that adjectives will follow a present tense form of the verb to be.

  • is
  • am
  • are

My iPhone is broken.

We use the past participle verb form with the past perfect tense…

Someone has broken my iPhone. (We use the past perfect tense with the verb have/has)

… and the passive voice.

My iPhone was broken. (We use the passive voice with a past tense form of the verb to be. WAS/WERE)

Passive voice link

suffix EN – plural nouns

We can use the suffix EN to make the plural of some nouns:

child – children

ox -oxen

brother – brethren

*These are the only 3 examples I can find. Children is the most common of these 3 words. Brethren is not very common (I never use it) and I also don’t have many opportunities to talk about ox. These plural nouns are leftover words used in an early version of English. Many English words came from German.

suffix EN – Adjectives to verbs

sweeten – to make sweet

sweeten my cakes with maple syrup instead of sugar. It’s healthier.

(More on the word sweeten) Root word vocabulary practice SWEETEN

brighten – to make bright

The new skylight really brightens the room.

shorten – to make shorter

The new jeans I bought are almost perfect! I just have to take them to a tailor to shorten them.

suffix EN- nouns to adjectives

Another use for the English suffix EN is to change nouns to adjectives.

a suffix used to form adjectives of source or material from nouns:

wooden – made of wood

I just bought a new wooden coffee table for my living room. It was on sale!

A wooden table is a table made of wood.
English Suffix -EN wooden

Golden is an adjective that can mean something is very good or valuable. How we use this adjective is a little different so let me explain with some examples. 

Gold is a precious metal so things made of gold have value, they are expensive.

In Japan we have 3 national holidays in the same week at the end of April. We call this holiday Golden week because you can have a long holiday. It is rare to have 3 days off in the same week, so it’s great!

Another good example is when we have a good chance to do something. We call it a golden opportunity.

“I will visit my wife’s parents this weekend. They can’t speak English so this is a golden opportunity for me to practice my Japanese.”

Golden can mean gold colored.

“My sister is tall with golden hair.”

or made of gold

“Indiana Jones found a golden statue in the ancient ruins.” 

Please note that we use golden for things that are special, not usually made of gold. Statues are often made of clay or stone so a statue made of gold is special or unique. 

Another example is an American boxing competition called the Golden Gloves. Golden Glove boxing competitions happen across the country. Many cities and states around the U.S. have a Golden Glove tournament. Usually, boxing gloves are not made of gold, so gloves that are golden are very special. The boxers are very skilled. 

Gold or Golden?

If something is commonly made from gold, like a ring or a necklace, we use can just use gold as an adjective to mean made of gold.

“My boss always wears a gold watch to work, I should ask for a raise!”  

“I bought gold earrings for my wife for Christmas.”

English Suffix -EN golden

Watch the video below to review the grammar and improve your English listening skills! Click the image ⇩

Click the image above to go to YouTube

Here is a past infographic that I made for a student of the word long with some variations.

vocabulary derived from the word LONG

My 5 newest, awesome English blog posts

I hope that reading my blog is a golden opportunity for you to study English! Write a comment for me below using this new suffix!

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