Word Building: Suffix -OUS

What is a suffix? It is a letter or a group of letters we add to a word to change its meaning. We can add suffixes to a noun and make an adjective, for instance. Likewise, when we add the suffix -OUS to some nouns, they become adjectives.

The suffix -OUS means “full of” or “having the quality of”. Let’s look at some commonly used adjectives ending in -OUS:


Meaning: wanting something that belongs to another person.
Ex: You shouldn’t be envious of people who have more than you do.


Meaning: can cause harm.
Ex: Smoking is a dangerous habit.


Meaning: known by way many people.
Ex: Jennifer Lopez is a world-famous performer.

Word Building: Suffix -OUS
Word Building: Suffix -OUS


Meaning: having a strong desire for success.
Ex: John was extremely ambitious when he was young.


: unusually surprising and unexpected.
Ex: Houdini made a miraculous escape from the ropes.


Meaning: worried.
Ex: I’m always nervous before an exam.


difficult to understand.
Ex: The woman disappeared under mysterious circumstances.


unhappy because you wish you had something that belongs to another person.
Ex: Rhina is jealous of her ex-husband’s new wife.


Meaning: refers to a substance able to cause illness or death.
Ex: We saw a poisonous snake this morning. We were really scared.

Conversation questions:

Now when you learned the new vocabulary, try to answer these questions or discuss them with an English learning friend:

  1. Are you nervous before an exam?
  2. Do you consider yourself an ambitious person?
  3. Do you know anyone famous? Who? Talk about them.
  4. How many poisonous animals do you know?
  5. Do you live in a dangerous neighbourhood/town/city? Talk about it.
  6. Do you know a mysterious story? Tell it to your English speaking/learning partner.

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