How to Use the Suffix -NESS (Real examples + PDF)

Understanding suffixes is a great way to increase your English vocabulary. I will explain the meaning of the suffix ness and show you how to use it with more than 60 real example sentences.

The suffix –ness means state (condition) or quality. Words (usually adjectives) with the suffix ness become nouns that mean – Having the quality of the root word. – The noun happiness is the quality of being happy. Fitness is the quality of being fit.

Keep reading for lots more helpful tips on spelling and download the suffix ness worksheet that I made for you to use in your study or with your own students.

The Suffix -ness Meaning

The suffix -NESS means – the quality, state, or character of

ness suffix – Definition, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

When you add the suffix to the end of adjectives the new word will become a noun that means having the quality of the adjective root word.

Happiness is a noun that means having the quality of happy.

  • We are all searching for happiness in our lives.

Money can’t buy happiness.

Adjective+ ness = nounExample sentences 
kindkindness – the quality of being kindThank you for your kindness.
happyhappiness – the quality of being happy I wish you lots of love and happiness.
drydryness – the quality of being dryThis medicine may cause dryness of the mouth. 
sillysilliness –  the quality of being sillyI’ve tolerated your silliness long enough.
blindblindness – the quality of being blindDrinking wood alcohol may cause blindness.
darkdarkness –  the quality of being darkDarkness is falling, we should get home.
awareawareness – the quality of being awareAirport security needs a high level of awareness to be good at their job.
illillness –  the quality of being illI missed a lot of school because of illness last year.
fitfitness – the quality of being fit I’m strong but I’d like to improve my fitness

Suffix -ness Examples

The following nouns all mean the quality, state, or character of the root word.
Some of the words have different uses and I tried to show these meanings in the examples. Each word is linked to its dictionary definition. [Click the word to visit the link.]

  • awareness – The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of the disease in the community. 

  • blindness – Drinking wood alcohol may cause blindness.

  • brightness – If you use your smartphone before you go to bed should reduce the brightness of your screen. 

  • calmness – I always admired his calmness, even in the most stressful situations.
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  • cleanliness – The restaurant chef was always concerned with the cleanliness of his kitchen. 

    – The adjective clean is a special example. We add the letters L I before adding the suffix ness to become the noun cleanliness.
    (The pronunciation also changes, clean sounds like KLEN after we add the suffix.)

  • consciousness – After the head injury, the patient fell in and out of consciousness

  • crispness – The lettuce leaves were soggy and had lost all their crispness.

  • dampness – There was a dampness in the old house which made it very uncomfortable. 

  • darknessDarkness is falling, we should get home.

4 days after the storm many houses were still in darkness. (The houses have no power.)

  • eagerness – The boss admired Jacob’s working style and his eagerness to learn new things. 

  • fairness – The teacher was admired for his fairness. All his students were treated the same.

In (all) fairness (to somebody) – used to introduce a statement that defends somebody who has just been criticized, or that explains another statement that may seem unreasonable

In all fairness, I don’t think that was the right thing to do.”

  • firmness – Peter loves his new mattress. The size and firmness are perfect. 

  • fitness – I’m strong but I’d like to improve my fitness.

You can improve your fitness in just 20 minutes, three times a week.

  • fondness – Since living in Japan I have developed a real fondness for raw fish. 

  • forgiveness – After the affair, he begged for his wife’s forgiveness.

  • fullness – I was attracted to her bright eyes and the fullness of her lips.

  • goodness – Optimists believe that some goodness can be found in everyone. 

  • gracefulnessThe quality of being graceful

“Every time I got to meet with Her Majesty, her generosity and her gracefulness made that moment the most important ever.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau LINK

  • greatness – The president’s goal was to return the country to its former greatness.

  • happiness – I wish you lots of love and happiness.

  • holiness – His Holiness Pope Francis will visit my country this year.

  • illness – I missed a lot of school because of illness last year.

Staff missing work due to illness cost the company $200,000.00 last year. We need to do more to promote a healthy work culture.

  • joyfulness – Our boss started off the meeting with a funny joke, and the level of joyfulness in the room went up. 
  • kindness – Thank you for your kindness.

I will always remember your kindness.

  • likeness – Chip bears a strong likeness to his older brother.

In the News

Bruce Willis Sells Rights To His Likeness For Use In Movies & Commercials [LINK]

  • loneliness – Many cases of depression stem from loneliness, especially around the holidays. 

  • madness – This plan will never work, it’s madness.

There’s (a) method in somebody’s madness

​there is a reason for somebody’s behavior and it is not as strange or as stupid as it seems

– Travis it’s methods are unusual but he always gets the job done. There’s a method to his madness

My favorite scene from the movie 300.
This is madness.”
Madness? This is SPARTA!”

  • neatness – When I was in junior high school and had to write a report, all my teachers gave extra marks for neatness. They really disliked messy reports. 

  • nervousness – Michael’s nervousness was showing during his entire speech. I felt bad for him. 

  • openness – Sandy’s openness to trying new things made her popular around the office.

  • restlessnessRestlessness is often associated with youth. 

  • righteousness – Felix’s sense of righteousness makes him hard to reason with. He isn’t very accepting of other people’s ideas. 

  • sadness – When I left my hometown, a real sense of sadness came over me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my friends again for a very long time. 

  • sharpness – I uploaded the photo to my computer and ran it through my photo editing software. Inside the software, I could adjust the sharpness and improve the picture’s quality. 

  • sickness – Logan missed 3 days of school due to sickness.
    We can add other nouns to make compound nouns with sickness. 

altitude sickness – sickness from being at high altitudes 
decompression sickness – severe pain and difficulty in breathing experienced by divers who come back to the surface of deep water too quickly
homesickness – the feeling of being sad because you are away from home and you miss your family and friends
morning sickness – the need to vomit that some women feel, often only in the morning, when they are pregnant, especially in the first months
motion sickness – the unpleasant feeling that you are going to vomit, that some people have when they are moving, especially in a vehicle (See also seasickness, car sickness)

  • shortness – The patient complained of chest pains and shortness of breath. 

  • short-sightedness – There have been many complaints about the government’s short-sightedness in recent years. 

  • shrewdness – In business, Kyle was always highly regarded for his shrewdness.

  • softness – The softness of this sweater is second to none. It’s my favorite. 

  • stillness – I’ve tolerated your silliness long enough.

  • sweetness – I add honey to my coffee to give it a little sweetness. Processed sugar is not good for you. 
I add honey to everything! More honey = more sweetness.
  • swiftness – McKenzie’s size and swiftness meet him an obvious choice for team captain. 

  • tenderness – Showing some tenderness doesn’t make you weak, it shows that you care about others. 

  • thickness – The length of time you need to barbecue a steak depends on its thickness

  • tightness – The day after the marathon, Murphy could feel a real tightness in the back of his right leg. 

  • unhappiness – Many people deal with their unhappiness by overeating. This is a negative cycle because overeating causes weight gain and health issues which will add to your unhappiness

  • usefulness – My washing machine is 11 years old. I have no complaints but it has outlived its usefulness. Time to buy a new washing machine. 

  • weakness – My manager’s biggest weakness is his stubborn attitude. 

  • wellness – We should choose a diet and lifestyle that promotes wellness

  • wilderness – He wrote a book about how we survive in the wilderness alone for 7 months. 

Wilderness World Origin
Old English wildēornes ‘land inhabited only by wild animals’, from wild dēor ‘wild deer’ + -ness.

Noun with -NESS (Only British English)

poshness meaning – the quality of being from a high social class

  • The new BMW is the perfect combination of simplicity and poshness making it great for anyone.
  • willingness – The best students are the ones who have a willingness to learn. They study because they want to not because they have to. 

Several of my English students have asked me “Should I use HAVE TO or MUST?” Learn how with this Easy Grammar guide. 

It’s common to see adjectives written as nouns with the suffix -ness on medicine labels listing the side effects.

  • dizziness – You may experience a loss of appetite and dizziness.

  • drowsiness – These pills may cause drowsiness.

  • dryness – This medicine may cause dryness of the mouth.
  • gassiness – Patients may experience bloating and gassiness

  • redness – A good face cream can reduce redness of your skin. 

  • soreness – This website list five tips to reduce muscle soreness after exercise. 

The words ache, pain, sore, and hurt all describe an unpleasant feeling in our bodies. They can be easy to confuse. Learn how to use these words FAST with lots of real examples from a Native English Teacher. 

Suffix -ness Spelling note

If a two-syllable adjective ends in the letter Y, the Y will change into an I before adding NESS.

happy – happiness
friendly – friendliness
lonely – loneliness 

Three-letter adjectives ending in Y don’t often change to an I.

shy – shyness

  • After high school, Brendan overcame his shyness and became a popular singer at local clubs. 

sly – slyness 

  • Herman was known for his slyness which is really not a good quality to have. 

Suffix -ness FAQ

What’s the difference between business and busyness?

business VS busyness

The noun business is used for a company, store, or service that supplies something in exchange for money.
“Kirk opened a new business.”

The noun busyness is the state of being busy.
“Some people confuse busyness with productivity.”

The noun business has 8 uses. Here are a few:

1) the activity of making, buying, selling or supplying goods or services for money

  • Running a store in a crowded shopping mall is a tough business.

2) a commercial organization such as a company, shop or factory

  • After graduating from university Regan joined the family business.

3) something that a particular person or organization is responsible for

  • That’s none of your business, stop asking. 

The noun busyness has two main uses.
1) the state of being busy

  • Christmas can be a stressful time. The stress and busyness of the season can be too much for some people.

2) the state of having many details

  • His artwork is popular but I find his use of color and the general busyness of his paintings distracting.

Word Origin
Old English bisignis ‘anxiety’ (see busy, -ness); the sense ‘state of being busy’ was used from Middle English down to the 18th cent., but is now differentiated as busyness. The use ‘appointed task’ dates from late Middle English, and from it all the other current senses have developed.

suffix ness examples
Looking for more useful English suffixes? Try these other awesome posts on my blog!
79 Common Adjectives with the Suffix -less (PDF download)
32 Common Examples of the Suffix ~ABLE (With Definitions)
Learn The English Suffix -y (60 examples + Free PDF download)

Suffix -ness Worksheet

Suffix ~NESS Infographic

Suffix ~NESS Infographic

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