How do you use the suffix -al? (Examples, Free PDF, Video)

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

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 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. 

The Suffix -al PDF Download

Download your printable PDF E-guide below. (It’s FREE!)↓

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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