You might know the suffix, but do you know how useful it really is?
A suffix is a group of letters that are added to an existing “core word” to change the meaning of that word. For example, the suffix “able” is added to verbs to create an adjective, and this adjective is related to the ability to perform the action.
For example, if I use the core word “chew” and add the suffix “able” to it, it becomes “chewable”, which means that something can be chewed. For example, if you buy “chewable vitamins”, it means that these vitamins can be chewed before you swallow them. The main point here is that the suffix “able” is added to the end of the word “chew” to create a new word and change the meaning.
One of the most useful but least known suffixes for English learners is “-wise”. This suffix means “with regard to” so when you add it to the end of a core word, it means “with regard to (the core word)”. The pronunciation of the word “wise” is the same as the verb “rise” (except a “w” instead of “r”).
For example, imagine that you are talking about painting your house and you know that if you paint your own house, it will be less money but it will take more of your personal time. If you want to say that painting your house will be better with regard to money, you can say: “money-wise, it’s better to paint our own house” and then if you want to say that hiring a company to paint your house is better with regard to time, you can say: “time-wise, it’s better to hire a company.”
In the example above, the suffix “-wise” communicates that you are talking about “money” and “time” when you are expressing each point. In the examples below, the suffix “-wise” expresses the focus of the statement as a substitute for “with regard to”.
I think that my English is good writing-wise, but I need to improve speaking-wise.
The hotel was nice comfort-wise, but service-wise, it was disappointing.
I haven’t lost any weight from my diet, but health-wise, I’m feeling better overall.
In the first example, the person is saying that their English is good with regard to writing, but they need to improve with regard to speaking. In the second example, the hotel was nice related to comfort but disappointing related to service. In the third example, the person is saying they feel better related to their health.
It’s important to note that the suffix “-wise” is added to nouns (or gerunds, which are when a verb changes to a noun by -ing form, such as “writing” and “speaking”). Also note that the word with “-wise” is not the subject of the clause. You can use “(noun) + wise” as an adverb to give description to the clause, but it is not the subject or object of the clause.
For example, in the second example, “service-wise” is not the subject (the subject is “it”) but “service-wise” adds more description to the clause “it was disappointing”. This is the same as how “with regard to (noun)” cannot be the subject either, it only adds extra description to a clause. In the third example, the subject is “I” and “health-wise” is an adverb to introduce the clause “I’m feeling…”.
Look at the following example and think about how you would write it with “wise” (don’t look at the answer below until you think about it!): “Our vacation was excellent. We were especially lucky with regard to weather. Every day was beautiful.”
Answer: “Our vacation was excellent. We were especially lucky weather-wise. Every day was beautiful.”
Using the suffix “wise” is more common when speaking to communicate more quickly and easily but when you are writing, especially if it is something more formal or business-related, it’s better to use “with regard to”.
Change the following sentences so that they use “-wise” (in the same way as the example above):
Do we have enough food with regard to snacks? I want to make sure everyone gets something to eat.
She is a qualified candidate for the job with regard to education, but she doesn’t have work experience.
The table is a good size for our living room related to height but not with regard to width.
Apples are better for you than grapes with regard to nutrition.
If you compare Toyota and BMW, Toyota is better with regard to price, but BMW is better related to design.
Do we have enough food snack-wise? I want to make sure everyone gets something to eat.
She is a qualified candidate for the job education-wise, but she doesn’t have work experience.
The table is a good size for our living room height-wise but not width-wise.
Apples are better for you than grapes nutrition-wise.
If you compare Toyota and BMW, Toyota is better price-wise, but BMW is better design-wise.