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Postfix vs. Suffix: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 19, 2024
Postfix is an affix placed after the stem of a word. Suffix is an affix that follows the element to which it is added, typically modifying its meaning or forming a new word.

Key Differences

Postfix refers to an affix that is added to the end of a word, serving mainly a grammatical function without significantly altering the word's meaning. Suffix, on the other hand, is a type of postfix that specifically changes the word's meaning or grammatical property, often creating a new word form.
Postfixes are common in programming, where they denote operators placed after operands, in language, they function to denote inflections or derivations. Suffixes, a subset of postfixes, are more prominent in linguistics, changing nouns to adjectives, or altering tense or number.
In usage, postfix is a broader term, encompassing any ending element in various contexts, not limited to language. Suffixes are exclusively linguistic elements, pivotal in word formation and syntax.
The understanding of postfix extends beyond linguistic applications, often used in mathematical and computational contexts. Suffixes are inherently tied to language study, crucial in understanding word classes and morphological structures.
The role of postfixes in grammar is less about altering meaning and more about fitting structural rules. Suffixes play a transformative role, often key in morphological analysis, changing word classes and meanings.

Comparison Chart


An affix placed after the stem of a word or phrase.
A specific type of postfix that alters word meaning.


Marks grammatical or relational properties.
Creates new words or word forms.

Usage in Language

Broadly used in various fields, including programming.
Primarily used in linguistics for word formation.

Role in Grammar

Often denotes inflections or derivations.
Alters tense, number, or word class.


In programming, x++ in C++.
"-ness" in "happiness," changing noun forms.

Postfix and Suffix Definitions


A syntactic element added after a word's root.
In dogs, s is a postfix indicating plurality.


A morpheme that changes a word's grammatical category.
Adding -ly to quick forms quickly, a suffix creating an adverb.


A terminal element in mathematical expressions.
In the expression 3 4 +, + is a postfix operator.


A linguistic element added to the end of a word to form a derivative.
In kindness, ness is a suffix forming a noun from an adjective.


In programming, an operator that follows its operand.
In i++, ++ is a postfix that increments i.


A phonetic addition that creates new words in a language.
Childhood uses the suffix -hood to indicate a state or period.


An addition to the end of something, particularly in context outside language.
In file naming, .txt is a postfix denoting text format.


A part of a word that modifies its meaning or function.
In unhappy, un- is a prefix, and -y is a suffix altering the adjective.


A morphological element in grammar, modifying a word's inflection.
In walked, ed is a postfix indicating past tense.


A key tool in the study of etymology and word formation.
Reader combines read with the suffix -er, indicating a person who reads.


To suffix.


An affix added to the end of a word or stem, serving to form a new word or functioning as an inflectional ending, such as -ness in gentleness, -ing in walking, or -s in sits.


A suffix.


To add as a suffix.


(transitive) To suffix.


A morpheme added at the end of a word to modify the word's meaning.
The suffix "-able" changes "sing" into "singable".


(biology) To subject a sample to postfixation


(mathematics) A subscript.




(computing) A final segment of a string of characters.
The string "abra" is both a prefix and a suffix of the string "abracadabra".


A letter, syllable, or word, added to the end of another word; a suffix.


(transitive) To append (something) to the end of something else.


To annex; specifically (Gram.), to add or annex, as a letter, syllable, or word, to the end of another or principal word; to suffix.


A letter, letters, syllable, or syllables added or appended to the end of a word or a root to modify the meaning; a postfix.


An affix that is added at the end of the word


To add or annex to the end, as a letter or syllable to a word; to append.


An affix that is added at the end of the word


Attach a suffix to;
Suffix words


Can a postfix change the meaning of a word?

Generally, a postfix modifies a word's grammatical aspect rather than its meaning.

Do postfixes and suffixes have the same origin?

They can have different etymological origins, depending on the language.

What is a postfix in linguistics?

It's an affix added to the end of a word, often modifying its grammatical form.

How does a suffix differ from a postfix?

A suffix is a specific type of postfix that changes the meaning or grammatical category of a word.

Do all languages use postfixes and suffixes?

Most languages use some form of postfixes or suffixes, but their usage and rules vary.

Are suffixes important in language learning?

Yes, understanding suffixes is crucial for vocabulary development and grammatical accuracy.

Can a postfix exist independently?

Generally, no. Postfixes need a root word to attach to.

Can a word have more than one suffix?

Yes, words can have multiple suffixes to modify meaning or function.

How do postfixes affect word pronunciation?

Postfixes can sometimes change the stress or sound pattern of a word.

Are there rules governing the use of suffixes?

Yes, different languages have specific rules for suffix usage.

Is a suffix always a part of speech?

No, but it often plays a role in determining a word’s part of speech.

Can removing a suffix change a word's class?

Yes, removing a suffix can revert a word to its original class or change it.

Are suffixes used in naming conventions?

In some cultures, suffixes are used in names to indicate generational or relational aspects.

Do suffixes contribute to word evolution?

Yes, they play a significant role in the evolution of language and word forms.

Are there universal postfixes or suffixes?

While some are widespread, most are language-specific.

Are postfixes used in mathematics?

Yes, in mathematical notation, postfixes denote operators following operands.

Is knowledge of suffixes useful in spelling?

Yes, understanding suffix patterns aids in correct spelling.

How do suffixes affect language complexity?

They add complexity by creating new word forms and meanings.

Can the same postfix have different functions in different contexts?

Yes, the function of a postfix can vary based on context and language.

Do postfixes and suffixes have cultural significance?

In some languages and cultures, they carry cultural or historical significance.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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