What's in a Word | All Blogs


Er or or?

By Debra Dobbins

A senator is someone who serves in a senate. For example, Republican Ken Buck and Democrat Michael Bennett are “shooting for” the opportunity to represent Colorado in the U.S. Senate. As noted in the caption below, Republican Steve King is running against Democrat Claudette Konola for the Colorado District 7 seat.

The letters “or” in senator form a suffix, a word part that comes at the end of a word. “Or” means someone who does something. We can apply that logic to words such as actor, advisor, conductor, counselor, moderator, narrator, orator and sculptor. A verb morphs into a noun with an “or” ending.

A more common English suffix for someone who does something is “er.” Consider these words: biker, driver, reader, rider, runner, skier, teacher, waiter and writer.

If there is a rule on how to decide whether such words end in “or” or “er,” I haven’t run across it. My advice is to read, read and read some more. If a word is seen often enough, committing it to memory is a snap for good learnors learners.

Republican Steve King and Democrat Claudette Konola flank moderator Jeannie Hicks on Monday evening during their debate in their race for state Senate.
 

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