Swedish Language Blog

Suffixes: -aktig and -mässig Posted by on Oct 23, 2012 in Grammar, Swedish Language, Vocabulary

In the Swedish language, there are lots of different avledningar, or bound morphemes that you can add to words to change their part of speech as well as their function in a given context. Some examples of avledningar are:

  • -het
  • be-
  • för- (when unemphasized)
  • -ig
  • -lig
  • -bar

And there are many more. But two avledningar that have been particularly useful to me in speaking Swedish are -aktig (pronounced /’ak:tig/) and -mässig (pronounced /’mes:ig/).

So what do these suffixes mean? Well, -aktig could be translated as the English suffix -like, as in ‘cat-like’ (kattaktig) or ‘machine-like’ (maskinaktig). What’s interesting here is that Swedish also has the suffix -lig, which comes from the same place that the English -like comes from, but has a much closer connection to English -ly in meaning. In the case of English, -ly was an early grammaticalization of the word like, and with time its form and meaning as a suffix has changed. More recently, the same word like has been grammaticalized a second time (which is why we still pronounce it [lajk]) to mean what -like means today as a suffix.

Here’s an example of a word with the suffix -aktig in a sentence:

Michael Phelps är verkligen fiskaktig när han simmar. – Michael Phelps is really fish-like when swims (lit. when he swims).

-mässig is also a very useful avledning. It corresponds to the English suffix -wise:

Svenskabloggen på Transparent.com har mycket att erbjuda innehållsmässigt. – The Swedish Blog at Transparent.com has a lot to offer content-wise.

There is a suffix -vis in Swedish which comes from the same place as -wise, but it is not used in the same way. For example, gradvis isn’t exactly the same as ‘grade-wise’ or ‘degree-wise’, but rather means ‘gradually’ or ‘bit by bit’.

Hope I have been able to enrich your Swedish vocabulary! Good luck using these avledningar!

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About the Author: Stephen Maconi

Stephen Maconi has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2010. Wielding a Bachelor's Degree in Swedish and Nordic Linguistics from Uppsala University in Sweden, Stephen is an expert on Swedish language and culture.


  1. Gabriella:

    I learned a lot! Thanks for this topic.

  2. gypsee:

    I love this suffix -aktig, since I think I append many words in English with -like. But I was wondering if -aktig can be added to any word, for example….cake-like, kakaaktig?

    Would that work? I used it in a blog post on Kladdkaka, but was not too sure about it!


    • Steve:

      @gypsee Hi! For words ending in -a and -e, remove the final vowel and add -aktig, for example kakaktig. 🙂 In the case of kladdkaka, though, the correct -aktig-form would be kladdkaksaktig. 😉 Some words require an ‘s’ in between the main word and -aktig, some do not – it is a rather complicated rule that I don’t think you can even call a rule, really, since it depends on the word. Hope I could help you! 🙂 //Steve

  3. Sheila Craig:

    But what do the suffixes mean PLEASE?

  4. gypsee:

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks so much! Just like ett and en words, I guess I’ll just wing it if I don’t know. Thanks!


  5. Sheila Craig:

    But what do they All mean please?