M is for Monkey

Saimiri sciureus
This Squirrel Monkey watches visitors at the Peterborough Zoo.


mania creates a noun that denotes a mental illness or an enthusiasm.

bibliomania, megalomania

maniac creates an adjective from the noun, meaning affected by mania.


manship creates a noun denoting a skill.

craftsmanship, horsemanship, workmanship

mycin denotes an antibiotic made from fungi or mould.

erythromycin, streptomycin

ment creates a noun that expresses an action, whether the means, the product, or the result of an action.

astonishment, fragment, treatment

ment creates a noun from an adjective to express a state of being.

astonishment, resentment

meter creates a noun denoting something that measures.

barometer, odometer, thermometer

metric creates an adjective relating to measurement.

barometric, geometric

metry creates a noun to describe the procedures or science of measuring.

geometry, trigonometry

Consonant — vowel combinations

ma       mass                                         am       ram

me       met                                           em       embrace

mi        mine                                         im        him

mo       more                                        om       come

mu       must                                         um       yum

my       mynah                                      ym       symbol


  1. Define the words in the list of suffixes.
  2. Make a list of prefixes starting with the letter M.
  3. Think of four new words with a suffix or a prefix starting with M, and make a sentence with them.
  4. Make your own list of words for each Consonant–Vowel Combination. Which combination is the most difficult? 

Special reading assignment

  1. My mother matched most of the Meissen porcelain with melamine dishes.
  2. Amusing monsters marched merrily in the musical.
  3. Most monkeys are long-tailed primates that live in trees. Apes, by contrast, do not have tails.


This blog entry is an excerpt from an upcoming book, English Manual: Letter by Letter, to be published soon.

Note: If you like monkeys and history, you may like to read the e-book, Edwardian Annotated Pets and How to Keep Them. This book, written in 1907, Edwardian England includes information on 17 different monkey species popular as pets.


I is for Ichneumon Wasp

Family Ichneumonidae
Ichneumon wasps come in all sizes and a variety of colours. The long “tail” is an ovipositor.


il— means before


ill— means not

illegible, illusion 

im— means before

impulse, improve

in— also means not

inability, inconsistent

in— or it could mean into

income, influx, ingrain, invite

infra— below

infrared, infrastructure 

inter— among, between

interchange, interfere, interlude

irr— means not

irregular, irresistible

iso— same

isomer, isosceles


  1. Look at the list of examples of prefixes. Can you add a suffix onto any of them to create different words?
  2. Can you think of suffixes that start with the letter I?

Special reading assignment

  1. His interest is in iconography.
  2. Going into the interior, his instrument indicated that a new installation is important.

F is for Fish

Cyprinus carpio
These hungry carp were spotted near a bridge over a little river at the Toronto Zoo.


fibro— meaning fibres.

fibroid, fibrous

for— meaning away, apart, prohibited, or neglected.

forget, forbid, forgo, forlorn 

fore— in front of, beforehand, in advance, anticipatory.

forearm, forecast, foreclose, foregone, foreground


ful has various meanings and functions:

As a suffix to change a noun to an adjective, means “full of” or “having qualities”:

beauty, beautiful

master, masterful

As a suffix on an adjective to make another adjective, retains the sense of the original:

skilled, skillful

tasty, tasteful

As a suffix to change a verb to an adjective, means “able to”, “apt to”, or “accustomed to”:

forget, forgetful

mourn, mournful

use, useful

As a suffix on a noun to indicate an amount:

handful (plural, handsful or handfuls)

spoonful (plural, spoonsful or spoonfuls)


1.      Define the words in the Prefixes section.

2.      Think of some more words using —ful as a suffix. How does the suffix change the meaning of the word?

Special reading assignment

1.  Four foreigners followed five forks from Finland.

2. Puffer fish for Friday.


A is for Another Ape

It’s time for a snack at the Toronto Zoo.


There are many suffixes that begin with the letter a. This table provides the meaning of each suffix and some examples.

a  usually indicates a Latin noun in the singular.

agenda, diploma

able creates an adjective, fit for doing or able to be.

adorable, capable, valuable

ably creates an adverb, fit for doing or able to be.

adorably, inevitably, probably

aceae used to form the names of plant families.

Aceraceae [maples]

ade  creates a noun describing action done, something produced.

parade, blockade, lemonade

ae  at the end of a scientific name, signals the taxonomic level, Family.

Falconidae [falcons], Picidae [woodpeckers]

ae  at the end of a Latin noun: feminine, plural.

alumnae, algae

al or  ─ally  creates an adjective or descriptor.

formal, formally

an or ─ane  creates an adjective or descriptor.

reptilian, Anglican, urbane

ance  creates a noun describing a quality, state, instance, or action.

arrogance, chance, trance

ang  the past tense of verbs ending in ing.

ring, rang; sing, sang

ant  creates an adjective that attributes an action or state.

expectant, flippant, pendant

ant  creates a noun describing an agent of action.

assistant, deodorant

arch  denotes a kind of ruler.

matriarch, monarch

ate  resembling, having (or with) characteristics.

laminate, pontificate

ative  of, relating to, or associated with.

talkative, narrative, sedative


1. Are you able to think of how to use any of these suffixes as prefixes? Try to think of some words, e.g., anterior.