Posted by: Idioma Extra | November 24, 2010

Thursday Tidbit

English suffixes –ish and –wise

The English suffixes –ish and ­–wise are commonly used in the English language, but often not understood or missed by English language learners because they are spoken quickly at the end of some words.

It’s important to note that the use of -ish in English is considered informal and colloquial.  Using ish on its own, and not as a suffix, is quite trendy with younger English speakers.

Let’s look at the uses and meanings of both suffixes.


This suffix can have several meanings. One meaning is “like or similar to” when used with nouns and is generally used to describe how someone acts or behaves. These nouns become adjectives when you add –ish. For example:

Even though he is an adult, sometimes his actions are childish.

His manners are kind of piggish.

Another meaning is “a little” or “kind of” when you add –ish to an adjective. Native speakers use this when trying to describe something physically. Here are some examples:

I would describe him as kind of tallish.

The dog was a brownish color.

I didn’t take the apartment because it was a little darkish.

Finally, the suffix –ish is used for time to mean “around” or “about” when the speaker is not exactly sure. Examples:

I plan to arrive to the beach in the afternoon, around fiveish.

A: What time will the meeting start?

B: Noonish


The suffix –wise is used with nouns to mean “related to” and is usually added at the end of a sentence to further clarify something or someone.


I am a very ambitious person, workwise.

Many people say she is a very intelligent person, bookwise.

I don’t have a lot of money, cashwise.

Check Yourself

Change the underlined part of each sentence and rewrite using the appropriate suffix. For example:

I had to bring a sweater because the weather was a little cold.   _coldish_

1. I’m having a really bad day, related to my hair.   _________________

2. I’m leaving work around 2. _______________

3. He is a big fan of celebrities, related to movies.    ___________________

4. It is difficult to say what the color is, but I would say it is kind of red.   _________________

5. Her mannerisms are similar to a boy.   __________________

6. I’m tired of listening to him talk, related to sports.   ____________________

7. The water in the shower was a little hot, but it didn’t bother me.  ____________________

8. When people are choking, they tend to turn a little blue in the face.   __________________

9. I don’t know anything about technology, related to computers.   ______________________

10. He didn’t lose all of his hair, but he is kind of bald.   ______________________

Answers to last week’s Check Yourself:

1. She was very (fortunate / fortunately) not to get sick because of the rain. _she____

2. He finished the job (correctly / correct). ___finished___

3. The mix up in the accounting department was (accidental / accidentally). __mix up____

4. We (regular / regularly) meet in the conference room on Wednesdays. __meet___

5. She asked for a raise very (polite / politely). ___asked____

6. Do you think the story is (really / real)? ___real____

7. The hamburger I ate last night tasted (awful / awfully). ____hamburger___

8. He is very (successfully / successful) in everything he does. ___he___

9. Mark finished the test (easily / easy) before everyone else. ___finished_____

10. He seems to be a very (honest / honestly) person. __he____


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