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What Are Inflected Endings?

Learning about inflected endings or inflections is a vital tool in developing reading and writing skills in English. First-language speakers begin using inflections in the first and second grades, but teachers need to understand the grammatical rules. What are inflected endings?

Inflected endings or inflections belong to the part of speech called suffixes. You add inflections to the ends of nouns to change their number and show possession, to verbs to change tense, and to adjectives and adverbs to indicate degrees of comparison.

Knowing how to attach suffixes or endings like inflections to base words helps in constructing and reading sentences. Although adding most inflected endings to words is simple, there are some more complex aspects of and rules around inflections. Let’s look at what inflections are and how they work.

What Are Inflected Endings?

Inflected or inflectional endings are a category of suffixes, which are word parts that you add to the end of other words to change their grammatical properties. We also have suffix (and prefix) resources on the site linked below to help you with this should you need.

What Part Of Speech Is An Inflected Ending?

The smallest unit of meaning that you can break a word into is called a morpheme. There are two main types of morpheme:

  • Free morphemes are stand-alone words, also called base or root words, which have a meaning. For example, house, move, large.
  • Bound morphemes or affixes are word parts that cannot stand alone. They need to be attached to other words to have meaning. Their function is to change the meaning of root words. There are two kinds of bound morphemes:
    • Prefixes join to the beginning of other words (e.g., en + large = enlarge).
    • Suffixes join to the ends of words (e.g., house + s = houses).

Inflectional endings are bound morphemes. Inflectional morphemes attach to the ends of other words, so they are suffixes.

What Are Inflected Endings

What Is The Function Of Inflected Endings?

You add an inflected ending to a root word to change its grammatical properties. Inflectional endings have four primary functions:

You will notice that inflectional endings do not change the word’s part of speech: adding an inflectional suffix to a noun doesn’t change the noun to a verb.

Bound morphemes that modify parts of speech are called derivational morphemes: help (verb) + er (derivational morpheme) = helper (noun).

The table below summarizes the functions of inflectional endings:

Table 1: Inflection Ending functions

FunctionPart of speech affectedInflectional endingExample
Create pluralsNouns-s -esdog – dogs fish – fishes
Indicate possessionNouns-‘s -s’dog – dog’s tail dogs – dogs’ tails
Create tensesVerbs-s -ed -en -ingwalk – walks walk – walked ride – ridden walk – walking
Make comparisonsAdjectives-er -estlarge – larger large – largest


How To Use Inflected Endings

Adding inflected endings appears simple, but the challenge is how root words change when you add the inflected ending. Let’s look at the rules related to inflected endings.

Using Inflected Endings To Create Plurals

Nouns are naming words, naming people, places, things, emotions, and ideas. The easist use of inflected endings is to create plurals from singular nouns. Two rules apply:

  1.  Add the ending -s to a noun to create the plural. For example:
  2. frog (singular) + -s (inflected ending) = frogs (plural)
  3. girl (singular) + -s (inflected ending) = girls (plural)
  4. hope (singular) + -s (inflected ending) = hopes (plural)
  • If the noun ends in sibilant consonants like ch, sh, ss, or x, add -es to create the plural. For example:
  • bench (singular) + -es (inflected ending) = benches (plural)
  • wish (singular) + -es (inflected ending) = wishes (plural)
  • hiss (singular) + -es (inflected ending) = hisses (plural)
  • box (singular) + -es (inflected ending) = boxes (plural)

Using Inflected Endings To Indicate Possession

You also use inflected endings with nouns to show possession or belonging, in other words, who owns what.

  1. Add an apostrophe and the ending -s to a singular noun to create the possessive form. For example:
  2. camel (noun) + apostrophe + -s (inflected ending) = camel’s hump (possessive form)
  3. Thandi (noun) + apostrophe + -s (inflected ending) = Thandi’s hair (possessive form)
  4. Add an the ending -s and an apostrophe to a noun ending in -s to create the possessive form. For example:
  5. camels (noun) + -s (inflected ending) + apostrophe = camels’ humps (possessive form)
  6. Jones (noun) + -s (inflected ending) + apostrophe = Mrs Jones’ office (possessive form)
  7. Texas (noun) + -s (inflected ending) + apostrophe = Texas’ citizens (possessive form)

Using Inflected Endings To Create Tenses

Inflected endings are essential when creating the different tenses in English. Tenses are indicated by verbs, the parts of speech that show action. Adding an inflected ending to a verb tells you when the action occurs.

Using Inflected Endings To Create Tenses In Regular Verbs

The rules to create tenses in regular verbs are straightforward, as the same rule can apply to several verbs.

  • Add -s to indicate present tense for third-person singular nouns and pronouns. For example:
  • I/you move (first and second person present tense) + -s (inflected ending) = he/she/it/the cat moves (third person present tense)
  • I/you cook (first and second person present tense) + -s (inflected ending) = Helen/the chef cooks (third person present tense)
  • Add -ed to indicate past tense. For example:
  • move (present tense) + -ed (inflected ending) = moved (past tense)
  • cook (present tense) + -ed (inflected ending) = cooked (past tense)
  • Add -ing to create the present participle. For example:
  • walk present tense) + -ing (inflected ending) = walking (present participle): I am walking
  • cook (present tense) + -ing (inflected ending) = cooking (present participle): Helen is cooking
What Are Inflected Endings

Using Inflected Endings To Create Tenses In Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs in English are exceptions to the rules for regular verbs and use inflectional endings in different ways.

  1. Add -ing and drop the -e to create the present participle in verbs ending in silent -e. For example:
  2. move (present tense) + drop -e +  -ing (inflected ending) = moving (present participle): I am moving
  3. drive (present tense) + drop -e + -ing (inflected ending) = driving (present participle): Beth is driving
  • Add -ing and double the final consonant to create the present participle in verbs ending in a single verb and consonant. For example:
  • sit (present tense) + -t +  -ing (inflected ending) = sitting (present participle): I am sitting
  • hug (present tense) + g + -ing (inflected ending) = hugging (present participle): Josh is hugging
  • Add -en to create the past participle. For example:
  • drive (present tense) + -en  (inflected ending) = driven (past participle): Joe has driven
  • ride (present tense) + drop -e and add -d + -en (inflected ending) = ridden (past participle): She had ridden

Using Inflected Endings To Create Comparisons

Adjectives are words that describe nouns or add more information to them. We use inflected endings with adjectives to create degrees of comparison:

  • The positive degree of comparison: short
  • The comparative degree of comparison: shorter
  • The superlative degree of comparison: shortest
  • For the positive degree of comparison, there is no inflected ending added to the adjective. For example:
  • Henry is short.
  • The sea is cold.
  • Add -er to the adjective to create the comparative. For example:
  • short (adjective) + -er (inflected ending) = shorter (comparative adjective): Henry is shorter than Liz.
  • cold (adjective) + -er (inflected ending) = colder (comparative adjective): The sea is colder today than it was yesterday.
  • Add -est to the adjective to create the superlative. For example:
  • short (adjective) + -est (inflected ending) = shortest (superlative adjective): Ali is the shortest in the group.
  • cold (adjective) + -est (inflected ending) = coldest (superlative adjective): The sea is coldest in winter.
  • If the adjective ends in -e, drop it before adding -er or -est to form comparisons. For example:
  • fine (adjective) + drop -e + -er (inflected ending) = finer (comparative adjective): The cobweb is finer than silk.
  • pure (adjective) + drop -e + -est (inflected ending) = purest (superlative adjective): This is the purest water in the world.
  • If an adjective ends in -y, change it to -i before adding -er or -est. For example:
  • sulky (adjective) + change -y to -i + -er (inflected ending) = sulkier (comparative adjective): Janice was sulkier than ever.
  • busy (adjective) + change -y to -i + -est (inflected ending) = busiest (superlative adjective): The restaurant is busiest on the weekend.
  • Add -er or -est and double the final consonant to create the comparative in nouns ending in a single verb and consonant. For example:
  • fit (adjective) + -t + -er (inflected ending) = fitter (comparative adjective): Pete is fitter than Jonas after spending hours in the gym.
  • red (adjective) + -d + -er (inflected ending) = redder (superlative adjective): The clown’s nose was the reddest I’ve ever seen.
What Are Inflected Endings


Inflected endings or inflections are essential parts of speech that attach to root words as suffixes.

Attached to nouns, inflected endings change words from singular to plural and indicate the possessive. Inflections change the tenses of verbs and create comparisons with adjectives.


Pearson higher learning – inflected endings.



I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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