A suffix is an addition to the end of a word, that gives the word a new meaning. They are an easy way to increase and I love to teach them to my students. The suffix EN was a fun topic to research and an interesting blog post to write.
The suffix EN changes nouns and adjectives into verbs. (the noun length becomes the verb lengthen; the adjective short becomes the verb shorten) It can also be used to change nouns to adjectives. (the noun wood becomes the adjective wooden)
Start using this suffix to increase your English vocabulary today. Learn with lots of real suffix EN examples, a video, and a free PDF download.
|suffix EN – nouns to verbs|
|If you suffer from lower back pain you should do exercises that strengthen your core muscles. [The noun strength becomes the verb strengthen]|
|suffix EN – adjectives to verbs|
|The new skylight really brightens the room. [The adjective bright becomes the verb brighten]|
|suffix EN – nouns to adjectives|
|I just bought a new wooden coffee table for my living room. [The noun wood becomes the adjective wooden]|
|suffix EN – past participles|
|My iPhone is broken. [Broken is the past participle of the verb TO BREAK]|
|suffix EN – plural nouns|
|What time do the children finish school? [Children is the plural form of the countable noun child]|
Table of Contents
- EN Suffix Words – Intro
- Suffix EN examples (Nouns to Verbs)
- Suffix EN examples (Adjectives to Verbs)
- Suffix EN examples (Nouns to Adjectives)
- EN Suffix FAQ – Gold or Golden?
- EN Suffix Words – Extras
- Suffix EN free PDF Word List
EN Suffix Words – Intro
en is an example of an English suffix. If we know the root word and the function of the suffix, we can easily increase our vocabulary. Let’s use the noun length for our first example:
length (noun) means – the size or measurement of something from one end to the other (how long something is)
- The waist of my jeans is okay, but I’m not happy with the length. They are too short.
One function of the English suffix en is to change adjectives or nouns into verbs.
lengthen (verb) means – to make longer
long Different word forms:
long – adjective
- An elephant’s nose is long.
long – adverb (used with time)
- How long did you stay in New York?
lengthen – verb
- My mom had to lengthen my suit pants as I grew taller.
long shot – idiom = something is unlikely
- I’m going to apply for the new division manager job. Getting the job is a long shot but I want to try.
As I said above, one of the functions of the English suffix en is to change adjectives or nouns into verbs.
Be careful. The opposite of lengthen is shorten. Short is an adjective and length is a noun.
shorten (verb) means – to make shorter
Suffix EN examples (Nouns to Verbs)
To make something taller (give it more height [noun]) or rise to a higher level we can use the verb heighten
- After the attack the embassy has decided to heighten security.
(Increase the level of security.)
To make something stronger (give it more strength [noun]) we can use the verb strengthen.
- If you suffer from lower back pain you should do exercises that strengthen your core muscles.
(You should do exercises that make your stomach and lower back muscles stronger.)
Suffix EN examples (Adjectives to Verbs)
sweeten – to make sweet
- I sweeten my cakes with maple syrup instead of sugar. It’s healthier.
Learn even more about the word sweeten at my Root Word technique blog post.
brighten – to make bright
- The new skylight really brightens the room.
shorten – to make shorter
- The new jeans I bought are almost perfect. I just have to take them to a tailor to shorten them.
Verbs with the Suffix EN (Word list)
Verb Meanings and Example Sentences
awaken – to rouse from sleep or to become aware of something
・The magician cast a spell to awaken the sleeping dragon.
Dragon Idioms – 8 Common uses (Real example sentences)
blacken – to make something dark or to tarnish someone’s reputation
・The beautiful white patio stones in my backyard were blackened after the fire.
dampen – to make something wet or to suppress something’s strength or spirit
・The rain will dampen the fire if we don’t cover it.
darken – to make something dark or to become gloomy
・Let’s close the curtains and darken the room before we start the movie.
deafen – to make someone unable to hear or to be extremely loud
・The explosion was deafening.
deepen – to make something deeper or to intensify an emotion or a relationship
・The water is shallow now but it will deepen as we get closer to the center of the lake.
enlighten – to provide knowledge or understanding to someone or to make something brighter
・A teacher’s job is to inform and enlighten their students.
fatten – to make something or someone fat or to become fat
・Farmers always try to fatten up their turkeys before Thanksgiving. Fat Turkeys sell for more money.
flatten – to make something flat or to destroy someone’s hopes or expectations
・The hills will flatten out as we get closer to the coast.
frighten – to cause fear or to scare someone
・The horror movie may frighten you if you watch it alone. I recommend watching it with a friend.
harden – to make something hard or to become tough
・We need to wait 30 minutes for the glue to harden before we can hang the frame.
lessen – to reduce or to become smaller
・Taking a break every once in a while will lessen your stress.
lighten – to make something lighter or to alleviate someone’s worries or mood
・The sun will lighten your hair if you stay outside for a long time.
loosen – to make something loose or to become relaxed
・To loosen the screws you need to turn them counterclockwise.
moisten – to make something slightly wet or damp
・Kelly moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue.
redden – to make something red or to blush
・A day in the sun will redden my pale skin if I don’t wear sunblock.
ripen – to become mature or fully developed, as in fruits or ideas
・The bananas are hard and green now but they will ripen if you leave them out for a few days.
sadden – to cause sadness or to become sad
・George was saddened by the passing of his father.
sharpen – to make something sharp or to improve someone’s skills or intellect
・A good butcher will sharpen his knives often.
soften – to make something soft or to become less severe
・The butter will soften if you leave it out of the fridge for a while.
stiffen – to make something stiff or to become rigid
・Your muscles will stiffen if you don’t stretch after exercise.
straighten – to make something straight or to correct a situation
・Your hair will straighten if you use a flat iron.
strengthen – to make something strong or to reinforce someone’s ability
・Doing push-ups will strengthen your chest and shoulders.
thicken – to make something thick or to become more dense
・Adding flour will thicken the sauce.
threaten – to pose a danger or to intimidate someone
・The approaching hurricane will threaten the safety of the beach.
tighten – to make something tight or to become more secure
・To tighten the bolt need to turn it clockwise.
weaken – to make something weak or to lose strength
・Not getting enough sleep will weaken your immune system.
widen – to make something wide or to increase the distance between two things
・The road will widen as we get closer to the city.
whiten – to make something white or to become pale
・Bleaching your clothes will whiten them but it also shortens their life.
worsen – to make something worse or to deteriorate
・This heavy rain will worsen the traffic on the highway.
Suffix EN examples (Nouns to Adjectives)
Another use for the English suffix EN is to change nouns to adjectives.
a suffix used to form adjectives of source or material from nounshttps://www.dictionary.com/browse/-en
Adjectives made from material nouns with the adjective EN used to be more common in older English.
For example in William Shakespeare’s play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ we can find the quote:
- “What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here”
This line is an insult to the clothing of one of the characters. – Your clothes look like you made them yourself out of hemp. (hempen)
*Hemp is a plant that has been used to make paper, rope, textiles, clothing, and more for thousands of years. (LINK)
We no longer use the word hempen. Hemp is used as an adjective now by itself without the suffix EN.
- “Hemp rope applications include climbing, fishing, shipping, and horsemanship.”
Another Shakespeare story used the term wheaten wreath to mean a wreath made of wheat.
Source – The historical development of the suffix -en in English
The adjective wheaten is no longer used.
wreath – an arrangement of flowers and leaves, especially in the shape of a circle
Suffix EN Adjective examples
*Note – ashen and flaxen are used to describe a color. They do not mean made of ash or made of flax.
The adjectives I hear and use most often are wooden and golden.
wooden – made of wood
- I just bought a new wooden coffee table for my living room. It was on sale!
(A wooden table is a table made of wood.)
Golden can mean gold-colored.
- My sister is tall with golden hair.
or made of gold
- The princess was wearing a beautiful golden crown with diamonds and rubies.
(The crown is made of gold.)
- Indiana Jones found a golden statue in the ancient ruins.
Golden – Suffix Example
Golden is an adjective that can mean something is very good or valuable.
* Gold is a precious metal so things made of gold have value, they are expensive.
How we use this adjective is a little different so let me explain with some examples.
- In Japan, we have 3 national holidays in the same week at the end of April. We call this holiday Golden week because you can have a long holiday. It is rare to have 3 days off in the same week, so it’s great!
Another good example is when we have a good chance to do something. We call it a golden opportunity.
- I will visit my wife’s parents this weekend. They can’t speak English so this is a golden opportunity for me to practice my Japanese.
Another example is an American boxing competition called the Golden Gloves. Golden Glove boxing competitions happen across the country.
- Many cities and states around the U.S. have a Golden Glove tournament.
Usually, boxing gloves are not made of gold, so gloves that are golden are very special. Golden gloves show that the boxers are very skilled.
Gold is connected with the top position. If you finish in first place in an event or competition you receive a gold medal.
Even though we don’t say “golden medal” this may explain why golden has a special meaning.
We don’t see the suffix EN added to other materials like silver (
silveren) or bronze ( bronzen). They are missing the importance of being the best.
EN Suffix FAQ Should I say Gold or Golden?
Gold is a noun that can also be used as an adjective to mean made of gold.
A gold watch. A gold necklace.
Golden is an adjective that can be used to mean made of gold but is also used with non-material items to mean great or valuable.
A golden opportunity. The Golden Age of rock and roll.
If something is commonly made from gold, like a ring or a necklace, it’s common to just use gold as an adjective to mean made of gold.
- My boss always wears a gold watch to work, I should ask for a raise.
- I bought gold earrings for my wife for Christmas.
EN Suffix Words – Extras
EN Suffix Words – Past Participles
Some verbs use the suffix EN to make their past participle form.
- take – took – taken
- choose – chose – chosen
- break – broke – broken
|Learn more here – Use Past Participles The Right Way (25 examples + PDF list)|
We can also use the past participle verb form as an adjective. Remember that adjectives will follow a present tense form of the verb to be.
My iPhone is broken.
We use the past participle verb form with the past perfect tense…
Someone has broken my iPhone. (We use the past perfect tense with the verb have/has)
… and the passive voice.
My iPhone was broken. (We use the passive voice with a past tense form of the verb to be. WAS/WERE)
|Learn more about the Passive Voice with 20 REAL examples and a free PDF download.|
EN Suffix Words – Plural Nouns
We can use the suffix EN to make the plural of some nouns:
- child – children
- ox -oxen
- brother – brethren
*These are the only 3 examples I can find. Children is the most common of these 3 words. Brethren is not very common (I never use it) and I also don’t have many opportunities to talk about ox.
‘Children‘ is a common plural form.
These plural nouns are leftover words used in an early version of English. Many English words came from German.
|Learn more at my blog post here – Singular and Plural nouns – 50 examples (worksheet PDF)|
Suffix EN free PDF Word List
Download this blog post as a printable PDF e-guide. Study anytime, even offline.
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