Answers to Questions About Suffixes
Here are several questions from DailyWritingTips.com readers about suffixes, followed by my responses.
1. Why is cheese-like written as two words, when doglike and catlike are written as single words? I often come across other words that are joined to like with hyphens.
Usually, words that end with a vowel are attached to suffixes such as -like with a hyphen, rather than directly attached as a closed compound. (Lifelike is an exception.)
2. How should the word handful be pluralized? I have always used handsful, rather than handfuls.
Plurals of words with the suffix -ful always take the s after the suffix. But you don’t necessarily always use the suffix: When you wish to emphasize the container, you should write, for example, “I emptied a bucket full of water into the tub” or “I emptied several buckets full of water into the tub.” To focus on the contents of the container, you should write, for example, “I emptied a bucketful of water into the tub” or “I emptied several bucketfuls of water into the tub.”
3. How come you did not hyphenate warlike in a recent post? Sometimes, in a New Yorker article, I’ll see a word with the suffix -like hyphenated and another word with the same suffix not hyphenated. I believe that in the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, it is hyphenated.
The default setting is to omit a hyphen in words with the suffix -like. Here’s a post about hyphenation of words with prefixes and suffixes. Chicago does not use warlike as an example, but according to its general recommendations, the word should be closed.
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