Suffixes -less & -free

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Suffixes -less & -free

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Are e-cigarettes harmless or do you think all public places should be smoke-free ? Catherine and Neil listen to a politician and talk about the suffixes - free and -less in this episode of 6 Minute Vocabulary.

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Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I’m Catherine…

And I’m Neil. Today we’re looking at the suffixes - less and - free.

Catherine Suffixes are two or three letters at the end of a word that affect its meaning.

Neil We’ll look at what the suffixes -free and -less mean and give you some examples…

Catherine There’ll be a quiz…

Neil …and we’ll leave you with a top tip for learning vocabulary.

Catherine Let’s start by listening to Markus. He’s a politician and he’s talking about his party’s policies.

Neil Right. So while you listen, think about this question: Do e-cigarettes produce smoke? Here’s Markus.

Markus We’re focusing on the jobless , the homeless , the sick and the elderly - people who are powerless to change things for themselves. We’re campaigning for more car-free and smoke-free zones. We’re going to extend the smoking ban to include e-cigarettes, which may be smokeless , but they aren’t harmless , and we’re going to raise the penalties for careless drivers.

So we asked you: Do e-cigarettes produce smoke?

And the answer is: No they don’t. E-cigarettes are smokeless .

Catherine And smokeless is a key word in this programme because it ends with the suffix less, spelt l-e-s-s. This means ‘without’.

Neil So smokeless cigarettes are cigarettes without smoke - they don’t produce any smoke.

Catherine And if something is harmless , it doesn’t cause harm. Markus said that e-cigarettes are not harmless . In other words, they are dangerous.

Neil Markus also said his party was going to raise penalties - or increase punishments - for careless drivers - people who drive without care.

Catherine Yes, careless means not being careful.

Neil So, by adding -less to the nouns smoke, harm and care, we turn them into adjectives. Let’s hear some more examples with -less .

INSERT Markus We’re focusing on the jobless , the homeless , the sick and the elderly - people who are powerless to change things for themselves.

Neil So we had the jobless …

Catherine That’s people without jobs…

Neil …the homeless …

Catherine …people who have nowhere to live. We can create a noun to describe a particular group of people, by using the word the with a ­ -less word. The jobless , the homeless .

Neil Lastly, we had the adjective powerless, which describes people who are unable to do certain things. If we add the , we get a group noun: the powerless .

Catherine Let’s have another clip. Listen out for the suffix -free.

INSERT Markus We’re campaigning for more car-free and smoke-free zones.

Neil We had car-free and smoke-free . Now if you add -free to a noun, you get an adjective, meaning that there isn’t any of that noun, or it’s not allowed, or both. Car-free means there are no cars because they’re not allowed. Smoke-free means smoking is not allowed and so there is no smoke.

6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English.

Catherine And we’re talking about the suffixes - free and - less . And Neil how was your journey to work today; stress-free , I hope?

Neil No, actually, it was awful! I tried to use my contactless credit card to pay for the train, but it didn’t work, so I had to walk all the way…

Catherine Oh, won’t do you any harm, Neil.

Neil No. It’s good for me, I suppose.

Catherine It is. And contactless credit cards are the cards that work without a PIN number.

Neil Usually you use either - free or - less with a particular word. But occasionally you can use -free and - less interchangeably, as in sugarless and sugar-free. These both mean: without sugar.

Catherine But be very careful with the words careless and carefree because they have very different meanings.

Neil Yes, they do. A careless person is someone who doesn’t take much care over what they’re doing…

Catherine …whereas a carefree person like you, Neil, doesn’t worry about anything.

Neil No, I don’t worry about a thing.

Catherine Now, it’s time for a quiz. Choose the correct word. Ready? Number one: Jack looks scary, but he’s actually very kind and gentle. He’s a) careless b) harmless c) powerless.

Neil And the answer is b) harmless .

Catherine Number two. Dalya doesn’t check her work properly so she makes lots of mistakes. She’s very a) careless b) carefree c) contactless.

Neil And the answer is a) careless .

Catherine Number three: To cut the risk of cancer, some people smoke e-cigarettes which are a) smokeless b) smokeless-free c) smoke-free.

Neil And the answer is a) smokeless.

And that’s the end of the quiz. Well done if you got them right.

And now, here’s today’s top tip for learning vocabulary: record yourself saying new words and then listen to them every day.

Catherine Top tip. And there’s more about this at Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.


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