Making Vocabulary Study Easy 38 Suffixes A suffix is a letter or group of letters added to the end of a root word. Suffixes change the meaning of the root word somewhat and identify its part of speech (verb, noun, adjective, adverb, etc.). For example, by adding different suffixes, the verb prospect changes to prospector (noun) or prospec- tive (adjective). A word of caution: The meaning of a word is not always an exact translation of its prefix, root and suffix. Paradox, if translated literally, means "beyond+opinion." However, the dictionary definition is "a contradiction that may be true." Also, impasse does not mean "not to pass." It is defined as "a dilemma or a dead end." Use prefixes, suffixes and roots to get you into the territory of the correct meaning, then use the context of the sentence for more information. The context is the other words in the sentence that influence the unknown word you wish to define.