Multisensory Activity: Spelling with Suffixes -ist & -est

Posted by Brainspring on 4th Jun 2024

estHi everyone,

Welcome to Multisensory Monday Sarah's Spelling School. Today's rule for -ist and -est depends on the type of word, not a certain feature of the word like most of the other rules. As always, this rule works most of the time, but you may run into some exceptions.

What spelling rules or patterns are you curious about?

Most suffixes include a rule related to their spelling. Choosing between suffixes -ist and -est depends on the word type and its meaning rather than a particular feature (i.e., the ending of the base word). Words ending in the suffix -ist refer to a noun, while words ending in the suffix -est refer to an adjective. As always, the rule taught in this activity usually works, but you may run into some exceptions.

Meaning Matters: Suffix -ist & -est Words

The endings of “artist” and “longest” sound the same. It’s necessary to consider the word type when adding suffixes -ist or -est.

Suffix -ist Meaning

Typically, the suffix -ist describes a person who practices, is an expert in something or is associated with a particular field of study or activity. It denotes a profession, an ideological stance, or a characteristic tendency. For example, a dentist is a person who specializes in dentistry.

Words with suffix -ist: chemist, artist, biologist, therapist, optimist, dentist

Suffix -ist in a Sentence:

  • The artist spent hours painting the landscape on her canvas.
  • The pianist received a standing ovation for his performance.

Suffix -est Meaning

In contrast, the suffix -est is often applied to superlative adjectives and adverbs, indicating the most significant degree of quality. For instance, the word small becomes smallest, showing that something is the least in size or amount. Typically, the suffix -est compares two or more objects.

Superlative adjectives ending in -est: longest, tallest, happiest*, busiest*, sweetest, coolest

The words with a “*” follow the Y Plus a Suffix rule. When a word ends in a consonant followed by a "y," and the suffix begins with a vowel, the "y" is typically changed to "i" before adding the suffix. This rule helps maintain pronunciation and ensures clarity in the word's spelling. You can review the Y Plus a Suffix rule here.

Suffix -est in a Sentence:

  • She always keeps up with the latest fashion trends to stay in style.
  • Despite being the smallest puppy in the litter, he has the most lively personality.

Student Activity

Using the words above or your own list, tell students a word. The students will hold up the -est or -ist side of their note cards and then write the word in the proper column on a separate sheet of paper. After you have gone through the word list, the students will use the words in sentences. For each sentence, they include one -ist word and one -est est collage

My favorite artist created the coolest painting in the museum.

The optimist turned a rainy day into the happiest day of his life.

Add sentences you or your students came up with in the comments below!

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