Increase your vocabulary Learn the English suffix -ISH
The SUFFIX -ish can mean = it’s like, or has the quality of:
foolish – like a fool / stylish – has good style / childish – like a child
For a country’s people or things:
From Sweden – Swedish / From Britain – British / From Ireland – Irish
-ish with other adjectives:
My new suit is bluish-gray.
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.
a DIFFERENT kind of Digital Study Guide. Click for more info ⇩
Use the code Web20 at checkout to save $20!
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!
Do you want even MORE English?
Sign up for your FREE English newsletter and get awesome English PDFs right in your inbox.
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
Check out my 5 latest posts
- Which is correct – Suppose to OR Supposed to? (2021)One of my private students here in Japan asked me: “Which is correct – suppose to or supposed to?” What a great question! (I love …
- Use these 10 Expressions With TIME +video (2021)English Expressions with TIME In this post, you will learn 10 common English expressions with TIME. Use them in your own natural conversation after you learn …
- What’s The Difference Between Ache, Pain, And Sore? (2021)Words like ache, pain, sore, and hurt all describe an unpleasant feeling in our bodies. They can be easy to confuse. Read this post and …
- 5 English Idioms with EYE (2021)English Idioms with EYE In the blink of an eye Catch one’s eye Eyes in the back of one’s head Bird’s-eye view Keep one’s eyes …
- Learn the difference between OTHER and ANOTHER (Free PDF)Other and Another I was teaching a private lesson in a cafe last week. My student works in a hotel, and she was telling me …