Part 2: Teach, model, define

These whole-class approaches and activities can help children understand, investigate and learn spelling rules for adding suffixes to words ending in -e and words ending in -y.

Suffixes for words ending in -e

Suffixes that begin with a vowel

Ask children what happens to words ending in -e when you add suffixes that begin with a vowel. For example, -ing, -er, and -able.

  • Invite them  to give word pairs comprising a word ending in -e and the same word changed by the addition of a suffix, for example, hope and hoping, live and living, care and caring, and dare and daring.
  • They can pursue this further by working in pairs to complete the Practice matrix (PDF-27 KB) Attachments .
  • Collect other examples of word pairs and ask children to form a rule about adding vowel suffixes to words ending in -e.
    • A rule could be dropping the -e to add vowel suffixes.

Suffixes that begin with a consonant

  • Ask children what happens to words ending in -e when the suffix begins with a consonant, for example, suffixes such as -ness, -ment, -ful, -less, and words such as care and careless, amuse and amusement, and hope and hopeless.
    • The rule is that you retain the e when the suffix begins with a consonant.
  • They can pursue this further by working in pairs to complete the Practice matrix: suffixes (PDF-29 KB) Attachments .

Suffixes for words ending in -y

  • Discuss the rule that you drop the e to add suffixes such as -ing, -er and -able. Try the rule out with other words. For example, love, give, age, save, and use.
  • Ask the children to discover the rule for adding suffixes to words ending in -y by adding any of the suffixes -ment, -ness, -ful, -est, -ed to happy, lazy, hungry, ready, empty.

Extend the established rules

  • Ask children what happens to words that have a vowel before the y. For example, play, say, and enjoy. The rule is that the y does not change. For example, playing, played, saying, enjoyable, and enjoyed.
  • Ask the children what happens to the y if there is a consonant before it. For example, ready, empty, hungry.
  • Make the rule explicit: The y changes to i before the suffixes are added, except when adding -ing. Then the y is retained and -ing is added to avoid double i. For example, try and trying, and carry and carrying.
  • Extend this work by investigating the vowel suffix -ous, meaning full of, and the spelling changes required when adding it to words. For example, continuous, beauteous, gaseous, and envious. This should reveal that the vowels e, i, o and u are used to connect the word to the suffix.