Increase your vocabulary Learn the English suffix -ISH
In this post you will learn how to use the English suffix –ISH in natural conversation. Sound just like a native speaker.
Watch the English video that supports this lesson at the end of the post to improve your English listening skills.
What is a suffix?
A suffix is a letter or group of letters added to the end of a word to make another word.
English Suffixes are used many ways…
to make the plural form of a noun
watch – watches
to make the comparative form of an adjective big – bigger
to change the word form (adjective to noun) happy – happiness
Let’s learn how you can use the suffix -ish to easily increase your English vocabulary.
-ish can mean = it’s like, or has the quality of
Uses for the English suffix -ish
foolish – like a fool
stylish – has good style
childish – like a child
Here are some more examples:
“I can’t wear these shoes, they’re my sisters! They’re too girlish for me.”
(These shoes look like a girl would wear them so I don’t want to wear them. I’m not a girl!)
When Linda was young she was kind of boyish, she was always playing sports and fishing with her brothers.
I asked my friend Martin how he was feeling today? He said he wasn’t feeling great. He had a headache and felt a bit feverish.
Do you know what a fever is?
So can you guess what feverish means?
feverish means having or showing the symptoms of a fever.
Martin said he was feeling a bit feverish so maybe he doesn’t have a fever, but he feels the symptoms a little bit.
For a country’s people or things
We can also use ~ish to describe something from an area or country~
Someone or something from Spain is Spanish.
Spanish rice, Spanish dancing, and the Spanish language.
Someone or something from England is English.
A typical English breakfast, we can talk about English weather, and of course the English language.
Someone or something from Scotland is Scottish.
A Scottish man, wearing Scottish clothes, playing Scottish music.
More country examples that use the suffix -ISH:
From Finland – Finnish
From Sweden – Swedish
From Britain – British
From Ireland – Irish
From Denmark – Danish
Of course, this doesn’t work for every country so be careful!
I’m from Canada but I’m Canadian, not Canadaish!
Read, listen, and learn with my Canada trip story Pt. 1 HERE!
Use -ish with numbers
It’s very common to use -ish with numbers to mean approximately, or about that number.
We often use the suffix ~ish when we talk about time.
“I’ll come by about 7-ish.” = I’ll come by at approximately 7:00.
Also with someone’s age.
“I’m not sure how old Carl is, I think he’s 35-ish?”
This means about or near 35.
Adjectives with -ish.
We can also use -ish with other adjectives.
Colors are very often used with -ish to mean very similar but not exactly, or a combination of 2 colors.
“My new suit is bluish-gray.”
“The sun turned the sky reddish-orange this morning. It was beautiful.”
Other adjectives too. Other adjectives with ~ish often usually mean a weaker version of that adjective.
“My coffee is kind of warmish now, I prefer to drink it hot. Time for a refill!”
This means the coffee is a little bit warm, from this example we get the feeling that it’s not warm enough.
You can find a much larger list of words using the suffix -ish at the link below.
Some native speakers use -ish a lot to describe things, and they often make up completely new words! English speakers know that if they add -ish to the end of a word it will be understood as “like that thing” People often use it with things that are famous or well known.
If someone’s hair looks like a celebrity’s hair we might say…
“I like that man’s hair, it’s kind of George Clooney-ish.”
His hair is like George Clooney’s hair.
The English suffix -ISH video
The embedded video didn’t load? Click the thumbnail below for a direct link to this video on YouTube.
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