Suffix -ese – Online English Lessons

Some suffixes you might already know are the verb suffix -ing as in talking, and the adjective suffix -er as in smaller.

The suffix -ese (/iːz/) is mainly used to identify nationalities and languages, and to describe things that are of, from, or characteristic of specific countries and cities.

For example:

Burmese (from / of Burma)

Chinese (from / of China)

Japanese (from / of Japan)

Lebanese (from / of Lebanon)

Maltese (from / of Malta)

Nepalese (from / of Nepal)

Portuguese (from / of Portugal)

Sudanese (from / of Sudan

Vietnamese (from / of Vietnam)


Her father is Japanese, and her mother is Chinese. (Her father is from Japan and her mother is from China)

She speaks Japanese and Cantonese. (She speaks the main language of Japan and a language of China)

Her parents collect Japanese art. (Her parents collect art from Japan)

They are going to a new exhibition of Japanese pottery at the local museum.

Another important use of the suffix -ese is to describe distinctive styles and registers of English.

For example:

legalese – the language used by lawyers

journalese – the way journalists write

officialese – the language of official statements and documents

This use of the suffix -ese is often used to imply a criticism of the style of language used, for example: officialese is often criticised for being too wordy and too hard to understand.

Do you know any other words that use the suffix -ese?

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