5

I am an assistant teacher of English in a higher secondary school in a remote village of Basirhat - ii block. In my school the first summative evaluation is going on where in the English grammar question of class - vi it is asked to form the antonym of the word, 'Hope', by using suffix to it.

The concerned grammar teacher of class vi argues that the answer is 'hopelessness' without considering the fact that the word, 'hopelessness' is the derivative of the word, 'hopeless' and not the direct derivative of the word, 'hope'. My question is : does the question exist at all where it is asked to form the antonym of the word, 'hope', by using suffix?

Even if we consider 'Hopelessness' as the derived form of 'Hope' by using suffixes, in that case also 'Hopelessness' is derived from 'Hope' as verb and how can we consider it as the antonym of 'Hope' as noun? Can we consider the derived noun form of 'Hope'(verb) after using suffixes as the antonym of 'Hope'(noun)?

Perhaps it is a silly question, but I am expecting your valuable opinion on it out of my responsibility to my pupils.

6
  • 4
    Perhaps the reason that hopelessness has been determined the antonym of hope is that both are nouns (though hope is of course a verb too). The problem with hopeless (if you were to consider that as the antonym of hope) is that it is an adjective. But I see your point that hopelessness is a derivation of hopeless. And I'm not sure if that precludes it being considered, albeit indirectly, a derivative of hope.
    – WS2
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 7:35
  • Hopelessness is a derivation of hopeless, which is a derivation of hope. That also makes hopelessness a(n indirect) derivation of hope. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 10:05
  • Even if we consider 'Hopelessness' as the derived form of 'Hope' by using suffixes, in that case also 'Hopelessness' is derived from 'Hope' as verb and how can we consider it as the antonym of 'Hope' as noun? Can we consider the derived noun form of 'Hope'(verb) after using suffixes as the antonym of 'Hope'(noun)? Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 18:27
  • 4
    @RichardKayser I see what you mean, Richard, but I would say that hopelessness is the antonym of hope_ful_ness not of hope whose true antonym, as you say, is despair. The same thing applies to joy whose antonym is sorrow but from which joy_ful_ness and its antonym joy_less_ness can be formed. Although I will admit that the word joylessness is a bit less common.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 2:17
  • 1
    @BoldBen Good comment. Several sources, e.g., Thesaurus.com, list hopelessness as an antonym of hope. But ... it seems to me that hopefulness and hopelessness are not exactly antonyms. The former points toward a positive outcome, but one not guaranteed. The latter points toward an outcome guaranteed to be negative. Because of the asymmetry, hopelessness is not the antonym of hopefulness. One can object to hopelessness being the antonym of hope using the same logic. Despair nicely avoids this objection. So perhaps you are correct on one point but incorrect on the other. Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 3:23

5 Answers 5

1

If a the answer requires an antonym using a single suffix, the Oxford English Dictionary doesn't have one. The "hope" headwords on my OED CD are: hope, hopeable, hoped, hopeful, hopefully, hopefulness, hopeite (a phosphate of zinc), hopeless, hopelessly, hopelessness, hopelost, hopely, hoper, and hoping.

Given that "hopelost" is marked as obsolete and meaning "one who has lost hope," I think the answer has to be the doubly-derived "hopelessness".

0

If the question implies one suffix, it is somewhat unfair. Perhaps it could be rephrased to say "by using a suffix or suffixes"?

1
  • Even if we consider 'Hopelessness' as the derived form of 'Hope' by using suffixes, in that case also 'Hopelessness' is derived from 'Hope' as verb and how can we consider it as the antonym of 'Hope' as noun? Can we consider the derived noun form of 'Hope'(verb) after using suffixes as the antonym of 'Hope'(noun)? Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 18:28
0

There is no antonym for the word "hope" with the use of a single suffix. There is however a pair of adjectives that are antonyms of each other, both created with a single suffix: hopeful and hopeless.

0

In Modern English you can't form an antonym to "hope" by adding a suffix.

The word "hope" is of Germanic origin. Its equivalent in Modern German is Hoffnung, and in principle you can form the antonym Hoffnungslos, which literally means a lack of hope. From this comes the word Hoffnungslosigheit, which corresponds broadly to hopelessness.

However, in German Hoffnungslos has taken on a broader set of uses, and Hoffnungslosigheit gets translated as both hopelessness and despair.

It seems to me that if native German speakers had wanted to keep Hoffnung and Hoffnungslos as strict antonyms in German, we could maybe have kept hope and hopeless as strict antonyms in English. But they didn't, and we didn't either.

-2

The question setter invites the problem. The moment it is asked to add suffix(es), it is taken for granted that parts of speech will be changed.

It is generally seen that suffixes change part of speech (meaning may or may not change), while prefixes change meaning (but part of speech remains the same); but this argument only mostly holds good, not always.

So, let us allow hope to change its shape and size till it gives the meaning of despair, hopelessness. The word hope in your context is a noun. The moment a suffix is added (-less) it becomes an adjective. So to make it a noun another suffix (-ness) is added; no harm.

5
  • 1
    It is not a “truth all acknowledges” (which, by the way, is ungrammatical) that suffixes change the part of speech and prefixes change meaning. It is quite the opposite: arrant nonsense that nobody should acknowledge. Some suffixes change the part of speech, others do not; the same goes for prefixes. Most pre- and suffixes serve to form a particular part of speech, regardless of what part of speech the derivational base is, and so may either change part of speech or not on an individual basis. And all prefixes and suffixes always change the meaning—they wouldn’t be there otherwise. Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 11:47
  • Sorry for the typing error,I an editing it. Could you provide an example where after adding a sufix the same part of speech is maintained so that I may correct my misconception. Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 11:52
  • Janus, please substantiate with examples to show what I mean is wrong. Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 12:10
  • 1
    Well, for one, be- can be prefixed to various different parts of speech, but always yields a verb. Thus, behead is a verb, whereas the derivational basis head is a noun; conversely, the suffix of origin -er is attached to nouns (place names, usually) and yields nouns: Icelander from Iceland, etc. Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 12:19
  • Well,for conversion prefixes,latin prefixes and certain sufixes my generalisation does not hold good. I should reword my answer with a modifying phrase "for the most part" Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 16:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.