-ée Suffix

French suffix -ée
Deux poignées de fraises
Two handfuls (literally, "fistfuls") of strawberries
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Le suffixe -ée

The French suffix -ée is added to nouns or verbs to make new nouns, which are usually feminine. There are several possible meanings bestowed by the suffix.

1) Duration

There are four pairs of French nouns that distinguish between a simple period of time and the duration or quality of that time period – learn more.

      English
un an une année   year
un jour une journée   day
un matin une matinée   morning
un soir une soirée   evening

2) ___ful

An amount equivalent to what that noun holds.

Nom Racine Français English
une assiette assiett- une assiettée plate plateful
une bouche bouch- une bouchée mouth mouthful
une cuillère cuiller-* une cuillerée spoon spoonful
une gorge gorg- une gorgée throat "throatful," gulp
un poing poing- une poignée fist fistful, handful

 Note that when the original noun ends in -e, that letter is dropped before adding the suffix. A few words have additional, minor spelling changes when suffixed.*

3) Contents

The contents of the original noun, the concept of what it contains or indicates.

Nom Racine Français English
une ligne lign- la lignée line descendents
une maison maisonn-* la maisonnée house household, family
une table tabl- une tablée table people around a table
une voiture voitur- une voiturée car contents of a car

4) Noun created from a verb

The addition of the suffix –ée creates a noun that indicates the purpose, action, or result of that verb. Note that the infinitive ending is dropped before the suffix is added:

Verbe Nom   English
aller une allée   to go avenue, path, aisle
donner une donnée   to give datum, fact
fesser une fessée   to spank spanking
monter une montée   to climb climb, ascent, rise
plonger une plongée   to dive dive

5) Past participle

The feminine singular past participle of -er verbs:

      English
donner donnée   to give given
parler parlée   to speak spoken
payer payée   to pay paid
visiter visitée   to visit visited

6) Plant names

Quite a few plant names and plant families end in –ée, though I can’t find a pattern to their creation.

une achillée   achillea
une graminée   a grass
une orchidée   orchid
une poirée   Swiss chard

7) Et cetera

There are many other words that end in –ée but don’t follow a pattern; here are just a few examples:**

  • une denrée – foodstuff
  • un dragée – sugared almond
  • une épée – sword
  • une fée – fairy
  • une marée – tide
  • une mosquée – mosque

 * Note the minor spelling changes in the words cuillerée (loses the accent on the penultimate e in cuillère) and maisonnée (n at the end of maison is doubled).

** Still want more?

For a complete list of French words that end in –ée, try the tremendously useful Recherche par critères feature of Le Petit Robert:

Petit Robert

 Related lessons

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-ée French suffix
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