How to Pronounce Words that End in -INAL

There are over 600 adjectives in the English language that end in -inal. What does this suffix mean? The -inal suffix after a root word means “relating to.” For example, medicinal means “relating to medicine.” The tricky part is that some -inal words often get long (one of them is 23 letters long!) because they are latinate (of Latin origin). Long words are often the trickiest to pronounce, right?  Let’s take a look at a rule that will help you out next time you have to pronounce a word that ends in -inal.  

 

Rules on how to pronounce –inal words: 

  1. Place the syllable stress on the syllable just before the -inal combination.  
  2. To pronounce these words naturally, you should also pronounce the “i” and “a” as schwas. Both vowels take on a schwa sound because they’re not stressed.  For example, abdominal sounds like /ahb-DOM-uh-nuhl/ 

 

Examples to practice with: 

Here is a list of some common words that end in -inal. Practice saying them out loud, following the 2 guidelines above. Then, listen to the audio to compare your pronunciation to that of a native speaker.  

 

Abdominal             Nominal            Criminal              Medicinal

Latitudinal             Seminal             Nominal              Seminal

Longitudinal         Subliminal         Pronominal       Terminal

 

Ready for some practice in context?  Try reading the following sentences out loud.

 

  • The medicinal plant relieves abdominal cramps. 
  • Follow the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates to locate the terminal. 
  • Criminal charges were laid against the group’s nominal leader for the subliminal messaging in his seminal book.

Need help?

To learn more about patterns of syllable stress and vowel sounds in words with the same suffix, check out these articles

 To learn more about syllable stress and practice using it correctly in conversation, join SpeakUp, a dynamic program that engages you in authentic conversations on relevant topics and provides you with feedback from a professional and experienced English teacher.  In fact, the first week is free for you to try it out!  

Anita Collins

Anita Collins

Anita is a long-time English teacher and language enthusiast from Canada, currently living in the multilingual city of Montreal. She majored in linguistics, dabbled in translation, and has been teaching students from all over the world for over a decade. She now spends each morning trying to balance her two loves: planning the next trip and spoiling her beagle. The rest of her day she spends on curriculum design and language classes, with the beagle underfoot.
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