This post will teach you everything you need to know about the suffix -y. Learning suffixes and prefixes is a great way to increase your English vocabulary. The suffix -y is used in many English adjectives, and a few nouns and new words are invented by native speakers all the time. The new words are made by adding the suffix -y to the end of words we already know.
In adjectives, the suffix -y means full of something or having the quality of something. (Often used with nouns)
Dusty means having lots of dust; Healthy means having the quality of health.
It can also mean that something is likely to happen. (Often with verbs)
Sticky means that something is likely to stick.
You’ll find more ways to use the suffix -y with lots of helpful examples in this post. Plus a free PDF download for you to study up line anytime. Keep reading.
How to use The English Suffix -y
The suffix y is commonly used to make adjectives from nouns and verbs.
Noun – Dirt + y = dirty
Verb – Run + y = runny
It can also be used to make nouns like the word inquiry which comes from the verb inquire.
Verb – Inquire + y = inquiry
|Dirt [noun] “My boots are covered in dirt.”||Dirty [adjective] “My boots are dirty.”|
|Run [verb] “Water was running down the window.”||Runny [adjective] “These eggs are too runny. I will send them back.”|
|Inquire [verb] “Several people inquired about the new job.”||Inquiry [noun] “There will be a public inquiry into government overspending.”|
*Inquire (and inquiry) is the American spelling. In the U.K. they are written enquire and enquiry.
Adjectives with the Suffix -y
Airy – Open to a free current of air; exposed to the air
- The cabin was bright and airy.
Ashy – This word is often used to describe someone’s complexion or skin color to be pale or unhealthy.
- Trevor had become very thin and his skin turned ashy.
Bulky – Big but in an awkward way
- The box was bulky and wouldn’t fit the trunk of my car. I had no choice but to pay the delivery fee.
Cheesy – Having a strong cheese flavor.
- I like this pasta dish, it’s very cheesy.
Also being too dramatic or emotional
“I didn’t like the movie, the ending was kind of cheesy.”
Cocky – Overconfident
- Milton was a good boxer but he was cocky and didn’t have many friends at the gym.
Curvy – Having curves
- She has long brown hair and a curvy figure.
Dreamy – This is often used to mean handsome or attractive
- I love the star of that show. He is dreamy!
Dusty – Covered with dust
- The attic was filled with dusty books and old furniture.
Earthy – Like soil or the earth
- The farm had an earthy smell that reminded me of my childhood.
Edgy – Often used to describe something that is on the edge between acceptable and offensive.
- The comedian was popular with young people, but his humor was a bit too edgy for an older crowd.
NEWS – Demi Lovato Releases Edgy Single ‘Skin Of My Teeth‘ LINK
- They had to replace all the faulty wiring. It was an expensive repair.
|The word acceptable is made by adding the suffix -able to ACCEPT. Do a deep dive into this suffix at my blog post – 32 Common Examples of the Suffix ~ABLE (With Definitions)|
Flowery – This adjective can mean covered or decorated with flowers.
- She wore a flowery summer dress.
It can also be used to describe writing or speech that is elaborate using many expressions and phrases. Often used in a negative way.
- He made a flowery speech that lost most of the crowd.
Foggy – Having lots of fog
- I don’t like driving on the highway when it’s foggy.
Frosty – Of a thing, having frost on it. Of the temperature, cold
- The ground is frosty today. My lawn is mostly white.
Funny – Amusing; humorous
- That movie is so funny. It’s one of my favorites.
|The word humorous is made by adding the suffix -ous to HUMOR. Do a deep dive into this suffix at my blog post – 50 ways the suffix ~OUS can Increase your vocabulary (Free PDF)|
Is funny an adjective?
Yes. Funny is an adjective. Like all adjectives, funny can be used in the comparative and superlative forms. Funnier and Funniest.
- The sequel was good, but part One is funnier.
- I agree. Part One is the funniest movie I have ever seen.
Strange or odd; not right
- The milk in the fridge smells funny. When did you buy it?
Furry – Covered in fur
- Many smaller, furry mammals lived during the time of the dinosaurs.
My furry friend.
Grainy – Coarsely ground or gritty. Often used to describe images/photos that are not clear.
- Astronomers tried to understand the grainy images taken by the telescope.
Gravelly – Full of, covered with, or similar to gravel or pebbles.
- We drive in silence down the long gravelly road to the cottage.
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Greedy – Having greed; consumed by selfish desires.
- Some call him an inspiration while others only think of him as greedy.
Grimy – Full of or covered with grime (dirt)
- His clothes were grimy and stained with food.
Grouchy – easily upset; angry; tending to complain
- The janitor was always grouchy and in a bad mood.
Hairy – Covered with hair
- Richard was always self-conscious about his hairy back. He didn’t like to go to the beach.
Hasty – Acting with haste, quickly
- The troops made a hasty retreat in the face of the enemy numbers.
Hazy – Thick or obscured with haze (Haze is small particles of dirt, dust or moisture in the air that make it difficult to see.)
- I was happy to get out of the hazy summer weather in the city and visit the countryside for a few days.
Healthy – Having good health
- I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.
Fresh vegetables are healthy.
Hungry – Having hunger
- It’s getting late. Is anyone else hungry?
Juicy – Having lots of juice
- I was very hungry so I ordered a big juicy steak with mashed potatoes.
- Joel is smart but unfortunately, he’s also lazy. This will keep him from getting a good job after college.
Loony – Crazy or very silly
- Some say he is a business genius while others call him loony.
Lucky – Having luck, being fortunate
- Terry scored the winning goal for his team in the final seconds of the game. Terry says it was a lucky shot but he is just being modest.
Learn more “LUCKY“ expressions at my blog post >> Idioms with LUCK – Do you know all 20? (PDF download)
Milky – Resembling milk in color, consistency, smell, etc.; consisting of milk
- All the girls were jealous of Vanessa’s flawless, milky skin.
Nosy/nosey – Prying, inquisitive or curious about other people’s business
- Thomas needs to mind his own business. He is too nosy sometimes.
Oily – Covered with or containing oil
- I use a special moisturizer to treat my oily skin.
Purply – Being slightly purple or having a purple hue
- Coca~Cola’s new Cherry Zero cans have a purply, blackish color that catches your attention.
Raggedy – (For clothes) Torn, ripped, or ragged. (Like rags)
- His raggedy clothes made him look like a common beggar.
Ratty – In poor condition or repair
- Is it possible to recycle my ratty old clothes?
Learn more Idioms and Expressions with rats and mice at my blog post here: 10 Common Idioms with Rats and Mice (Real example sentences)
Rocky – Having lots of rocks, being full of rocks
- There is a long stretch of beach but it’s quite rocky so you should wear running shoes.
Shady – (Of an area) Being protected from the sun
- Let’s set up our picnic in that shady spot near the big trees.
(Of a person) Not trustworthy
- Watch what you say around Donovan. He always comes off a bit shady. I don’t trust that guy.
Shiny – Having a shine
- Vanessa has flawless skin and beautiful long shiny hair. What’s her secret?
Soapy – Like soap, covered in soap, or full of soap
- The sink was full of soapy water.
Sporty – Fond of sports
- She is kind of sporty, I like that in a girl.
Or suitable for sports
- She was wearing a sporty tennis outfit.
Spotty – Having spots Or of inconsistent quality
- I couldn’t get a credit card due to my spotty credit history.
Stinky – Smelling bad
- This milk is really stinky. When did you buy it?
Wavy – Having wave-like shapes on its border or surface; waved
- Vanessa has flawless skin and beautiful long wavy hair. What’s her secret?
Witty – Full of wit; Clever and having a sharp mind; Funny
- Gary is really witty. I like talking to him.
Did you know?
The adjective happy comes from the old English noun hap which means – Happenings; events; goings-on. It was used to mean luck, chance, or fortune.
hap + -y = happy https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hap#English
The Suffix -y is used to make adjectives the same way as the Suffix -ish. You can learn more here: Your complete guide to the Suffix -ISH (Quiz/worksheet)
Adjectives of Weather with the Suffix -y
Cloudy – Covered with clouds
- It was cloudy so we decided to go to the movies instead of the beach.
OR Not transparent or clear
- The water was cloudy and not safe to drink.
Windy – Lots of wind
- Windsurfers love it when it’s warm and windy.
Rainy – Having rain
- Tomorrow will be rainy so make sure you take your umbrella.
Snowy – Covered with snow
- The snowy fields are beautiful. They are my favorite things in winter.
Stormy – Relating to storms or storm conditions
- My Dad was in the navy so he has lots of experience with stormy seas.
Sunny – With a lot of bright light from the sun
- Tomorrow will be sunny, let’s go to the beach tomorrow.
Adjectives of Taste/Flavor with the Suffix -y
Peppery – Having a pepper flavor; A little spicy
- I added some peppery basil to the pasta. Did you notice the flavor?
Tangy – Having a sharp, pungent flavor
- I prefer tangy cheese to mild.
Tasty – Having a pleasant or satisfying flavor; delicious
- The meal was very tasty and not too expensive. We should go back to that restaurant soon.
Salty – Having salt; tasting of salt
- I crave salty foods like potato chips when it’s hot outside.
Savory – Having a pleasant taste or smell; Tasting of salt
- Are you in the mood for something savory or something sweet?
Spicy – Of, or containing spice
- I love spicy chicken wings. The hotter the better!
Vinegary – Sour; like vinegar
- I made this salad dressing myself but it’s a bit too vinegary. I will use less vinegar the next time.
Yummy – A childish or lighthearted way to say delicious
- Ice cream is yummy! (I totally agree!)
Zesty – Having a piquant or pungent taste; spicy
- Zesty comes from the noun zest, which is made from scraping the outside peel of citrus fruits like orange, lemon, and lime. It can also describe food that is a little spicy or has some extra flavor.
Having the taste of a particular food or ingredient
Chocolaty – Containing chocolate or having the taste of chocolate
- I have a recipe book with nothing but chocolaty drinks and desserts.
My students often ask me about the pronunciation of dessert compared to the word desert. I wrote a blog post to help students to understand the difference. You can read it here: Dessert vs Desert – Pronounce these words CORRECTLY(Audio)
Lemony – Resembling or characteristic of lemons, especially in terms of aroma, taste, or color
- This room smells very lemony.
Sugary – Of food, drink, etc, containing or covered with a large amount of sugar
- When I was a kid I ate lots of sugary cereal for breakfast.
Nouns with the Suffix -y
We learned at the top of this post that the verb inquire becomes the noun inquiry by adding the suffix -y.
The suffix -y can also be used to make abstract nouns of state, condition, or quality.
modest + -y → modesty
– A new report says that modesty can lead to longer happiness.
|Happiness comes from combining the adjective happy with the suffix -NESS. Do a deep dive into this suffix at my blog post – Use the suffix -NESS to increase your English vocabulary (Fast)|
honest + -y → honesty
– We need courage and honesty to really change ourselves.
difficult + -y → difficulty
– In high school, I had great difficulty with advanced math. I stayed after class for extra help.
Thanks to the following websites for help in building this English post
y_2 suffix – Definition OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com
English words suffixed with -y (adjectival) – Wiktionary
Which word ending I’m the Suffix -Y do you want to use first? Did I miss any other Suffix -Y words? Tell me in the comments!
Printable Suffix -Y PDF vocabulary list
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