How do you use the suffix -al? (Over 85 Common Examples)

This was a fun post to write, I learned many cool things while doing the research. I’m sure this post will be very helpful for anyone studying or teaching English who wants to know how to use the suffix -al.

The suffix -al is used in adjectives to mean connected with
– social = connect with society 

  • “It’s been hard to be social during the quarantine but I’m still talking with friends online.” 

The suffix -al is used in nouns to mean a process or a state of

  • “The store is offering a free trial for 30 days.”

I put together 84 common words that use the suffix -al. Most words are adjectives but you’ll also find a few nouns and some words with origins from older languages. If you want to increase your vocabulary, you’re in the right place!

Spelling Guide for the Suffix -al

I collected a list of common words with the suffix -al and I looked at the different spellings. Here are some patterns that I found. (I don’t want to call them RULES!) There are always exceptions, so be careful.

If the word ends with the letters N or C
Add -al
addition + al = additional
education + al = educational
classic + al = classical
If the word ends with the letter Y
Change the y to an i and add -cal
biology + al = biological 
biography + al = biographical 
history + al = historical
*Some letter Y exceptions No pattern
controversy + al = controversial
navy + -al = naval
territory + -al = territorial 
If the word ends with the letters NT
Just add -al
environment + al = environmental
experiment + al = experimental
If the word ends with the letter E 
Drop the e and add -al
arrive + al = arrival
culture + al = cultural
globe + al = global
If the word ends with the letters CE 
Drop the e and add -ial
finance + al = financial 
race + al = racial

Some More Exceptions (I didn’t find a pattern)

crime + al = criminal
idea + al = ideal
medicine + -al = medical
minimum + al = minimal 
spirit + al = spiritual 
theory + -al = theoretical 

If you can find any words with the suffix -al that don’t fit the patterns I found, please let us know in the comments

Adjectives with the Suffix -al

Every vocabulary word in this list has a link to its Dictionary meaning.

Over 95% of the links will take you to Oxford Learners Dictionaries.com which contains an audio link so that you can hear the correct pronunciation.

A natural example sentence follows each word so you can see how these words are used in English.


additional 

  • The doctor ordered a few additional tests to make sure. 

agricultural

  • This town is about 80% agricultural
This area is mostly farmland so most of the jobs here are agricultural.

beneficial 

  • These supplements are supposed to be beneficial for people who need more energy.

biological 

  • I was adopted when I was 3 years old and I’ve never met my biological parents.

central 

  • This bus will take you downtown to the central terminal. From there it’s easy to get anywhere in the city. 

classical 

  • My uncle really loves classical music. He used to play the piano when he was much younger.

coastal 

  • Rising sea levels will be the hardest on people living in coastal areas.
Coastal properties can be expensive.

commercial 

  • This area downtown has been marked for commercial developments. They’re planning to build a new Shopping Center and entertainment complex. 

constitutional 

  • I don’t think the new law will pass, it’s not constitutional.

controversial 

  • Some of Al’s views are very controversial

criminal 

  • He has shown signs of criminal behavior in the past so I’m not surprised that he got into trouble last week.

critical 

  • People are very critical of the changes that the city has made to the downtown area. 

cultural 

  • The city tore down some buildings that had significant cultural importance.

educational 

  • I’d like to watch documentaries. They’re fun and also educational because you learn about real events.

electrical 

  • My dad is great with anything electrical. He has worked with machines all his life. 

emotional 

  • It’s always emotional leaving my family after visiting for a few weeks. I’m happy to get back to Japan but a little sad at the same time. 

environmental 

  • We need to take care of environmental issues right away. We can’t wait any longer. 

exceptional 

  • Dinner was really exceptional. You are an amazing cook Karen. 

experimental 

  • I am participating in an experimental drug trial next week. I can earn some money for college. 

financial 

  • My friend is the manager of a bank so I can always count on him for good financial advice. 
We make important financial decisions every day.

formal/informal 

  • I was planning to wear my khaki pants to dinner. I’m not sure if it’s formal or informal so khaki pants seem safe.

functional 

  • This pair of pants has many pockets so it’s very functional but I don’t really like the style. You know what they say, fashion over function

geographical 

  • I have a satellite phone that works in all geographical locations. 

global 

  • The country’s president was crazy and dreamed of global domination.

historical 

  • The two countries signed a historic peace deal.

ideal 

  • The morning sun was shining, the lake was calm, and the air was cool. It was ideal weather for fishing.

identical 

  • This smartphone costs double what this other smartphone costs, but they are virtually identical.

industrial

  • This part of town has been zoned for industrial use. That means only factories can build here, no houses or apartments. 

influential 

  • Elon Musk is one of the most influential people of our generation.

institutional 

  • Many people feel the problems that minorities face are institutional.

intellectual 

  • Sometimes it’s nice to just sit down with a friend and have a real intellectual conversation.

international 

  • The international panel has a proposal to help maintain the supply of freshwater to the region. 
People came to the conference from all over the world. It was an international event.

logical 

  • Your idea seems logical but I’m not sure if we have enough money in our budget.

magical 

  • Tokyo Disney Sea is a magical place. I have so much fun every time I go there.

mechanical 

  • My motorcycle has some mechanical problems right now. 

medical 

  • He was rushed to the hospital for medical attention. 

minimal 

  • Andrea is so lazy, she does a minimal amount of work at the office.

musical 

  • My nephew has just joined a band playing the drums. I always thought he was musical

national 

  • My wife and I went to a national museum last week, they had many Van Gogh pieces on display.

natural 

  • Earthquakes and hurricanes are natural disasters.

naval 

  • My dad was a naval Commander when he retired from the military in 2008. 

normal 

  • After the quarantine, everyone was excited to return to a normal life.

occasional 

  • I don’t drink but I will enjoy the occasional glass of wine.

official 

  • The city’s professional baseball team will be moving next year. They made an official announcement today.

operational 

  • The world’s biggest offshore wind farm is now fully operational

original 

  • I just bought an original Volkswagen Beetle from 1945. 

partial 

  • An electrical problem led to a partial blackout in the city last night. 

personal 

  • If you just met someone it’s not polite to ask questions that are too personal.

political 

  • It’s also not a good idea to have a political conversation with someone you just met. 

practical 

  • High heel shoes are sexy but they’re not very practical. It must be hard to walk in high heels all day!

presidential 

  • I’m afraid the president is not acting very presidential.

professional 

  • My boyhood heroes were all professional hockey players. 

Boyhood is a word made with the suffix -hood learn more about this suffix at my post > How do you use the suffix -hood? (16 Common Examples)

psychological 

  • Reg was diagnosed with a psychological disorder.

racial 

  • We should all be working towards racial harmony.

regional 

  • If we win the regional tournament we qualify for the state championship. 

residential 

  • Cities are usually divided into commercial, industrial, and residential areas.

sexual 

  • He was accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward his female co-workers. 

social

  • Parties are fun for me, I like to do anything social.

We sometimes use anti-social to describe someone who doesn’t like to be around other people.

  • I would invite Teresa but she’s a little bit anti-social for me. 

*Even more about negative prefixes at my blog post here > Learn to use 9 Negative prefixes (Over 225 real examples)

spiritual 

  • She felt like she was on the verge of a spiritual awakening. 
Meditation is a spiritual time for me.

statistical 

  • Carson is a statistical analyst for a professional basketball team. It seems like a cool job but you have to know a lot of math. 

structural 

  • After the big storm, there was severe structural damage to the school. 

substantial 

  • It’s going to take a substantial amount of money to repair.

technical 

  • I could get technical here but I don’t want to bore everyone. 

technological 

  • The two countries are in a technological race to see who can send people to Mars first. For humans to survive on Mars we will need lots of new technology. 

territorial 

  • Hippos are very territorial and will fight strongly to protect their area. 

theoretical 

  • I was shocked to learn that a famous actor also has a degree in theoretical physics.

traditional 

  • We need to return to our traditional values. Young people today have very little moral guidance. 

tropical 

  • I’m happy to vacation somewhere tropical but I wouldn’t want to live there. I like living in a big city.

universal 

  • In Canada, we have universal healthcare.

unusual/usual 

  • I went to the bar after work and all the usual people were there.
  • This weather is unusual for August.

Nouns with the Suffix -al

arrival – arrive + al

  • The townspeople all got ready for the storm’s arrival.

denial – deny + -al

  • The signs were all there but some people were just in denial.

disposal – dispose + al 

  • Garbage disposal has been a problem in our city. We need more staff for garbage collection. 

proposal – propose + -al

  • Hector made a proposal but it was rejected by the partners.

refusal – refuse + al

  • Hector blamed it on the partners’ refusal to change the direction of the company.

removal – remove + al 

  • Trash removal is handled by the city government.
Angry protesters were calling for the removal of the president.

signal – sign + al

*Note – The pronunciation of sign sounds quite different than the pronunciation of signal.
The ‘G’ in the word sign is silent. Sign sounds like fine, mine, or wine.

  • Turn right at the stop sign.

The word signal has a strong ‘G’ sound like in the words big, dig, or pig

  • The ship sent a distress signal hoping to get some help.

survival – survive + al

  • After the surgery, there is a high rate of survival for someone his age.

trial – try + al

  • The store is offering a free trial for 30 days.

Common Words With The Suffix -al Made From Older Languages 

annual – happening or done once every year 

From late Middle English: from Old French annuel, from late Latin annualis, based on Latin annus ‘year’.

  • It’s time for our annual trip to the mountains. My family goes camping every year. 

final – being or happening at the end of a series of events, actions, statements, etc.

From Middle English (in the adjectival sense ‘conclusive’): from Old French, or from Latin finalis, from finis ‘end’. Compare with finish.

  • This will be our final party before we go off to university next year. Let’s enjoy ourselves! 

internal – Internal is not related to the noun or the verb intern. Internal means the inside of something. 

From the early 16th cent. (in the sense ‘intrinsic’): from modern Latin internalis, from Latin internus ‘inward, internal’.

  • The company will do some internal shuffling after the new president arrives next week.
  • My cousin is a doctor of internal medicine.

legal/illegal – allowed or required by law

From late Middle English (in the sense ‘to do with Mosaic law’): from French, or from Latin legalis, from lex, leg- ‘law’. Compare with loyal.

  • You should move your car, it’s not legal to park there.
  • In Arizona and New York, it’s illegal to own a pet alligator. 

local – belonging to or connected with the particular place or area that you are talking about or with the place where you live

From late Middle English: from late Latin localis, from Latin locus ‘place’.

  • Whenever I travel, I try to enjoy as much of the local food as I can. 

verbal – This is NOT an adjective relating to verbs. It means relating to words

  • All teachers must have good verbal skills.
  • A large part of communication is non-verbal. We say a lot with our body language whenever we communicate with others.” 

Verbal becomes the verb verbalize when you add the suffix -ize. It means: to put your ideas or thoughts into words.

  • He’s a smart guy but he has trouble trying to verbalize his ideas.

How To Use The Suffix -ize (List, Definitions, 48 Examples)
Worldenglishblog.com/how-to-use-the-suffix-ize/

visual – of or connected with seeing or sight

From late Middle English (originally describing a beam imagined to proceed from the eye and make vision possible): from late Latin visualis, from Latin visus ‘sight’, from videre ‘to see’. Compare vision.

  • After the accident, Dennis had some visual impairments due to an injury to his eye. 

For a super deep dive into the suffix -al visit https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-al

Learn more about PREFIXES and SUFFIXES at the great posts below.

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