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When can or can't you add -less at the end of a word? What are the limitations to its productivity? Can you say anything at all, like streakless or phoneless? I am really sorry for the stupid question.

  • What do the random tags you picked have to do with the question at all? Please choose your tags more wisely in the future. Thank you. – RegDwigнt Nov 16 '15 at 10:55
  • I am sorry, I am new here, the tags seemed all right to me. – AndrewsBrianne Nov 16 '15 at 11:10
  • The tags are fine! I don't know what this guy's problem is. – Danny Rodriguez Nov 19 '15 at 10:37
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The morpheme -less seems to be only attachable to most nouns.

Try it with adjectives and it doesn't work: happyless is one and it sounds very wrong.

  • But isn't it simply because we have a better word for it? Like sad for example. What about adjectives that don't have a good enough antonyms? – AndrewsBrianne Nov 16 '15 at 9:20
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    Well, technically, that would be joyless. The absence of X is not the opposite of X. And it makes sense that you would generally have to have less of something (a noun). Having less of an adjective, verb or adverb (for example) would be quite difficult. – user45532 Nov 16 '15 at 9:30
  • Well for most adjectives there's a good antonym. Of course some nouns don't work with that morpheme. Consider the noun "money" for example. You can say "moneyless" but it sounds a little strange. Also the same with milk—"milkless". So it seems that the morpheme works for collective nouns that can't be pluralized. Unless anyone could think of one. – Danny Rodriguez Nov 16 '15 at 9:35
  • @DannyRodriguez I would say that you could have moneyless or milkless :) — I think it's more usual to see uncommon suffixes with a hyphen before them though: I'd expect to see penniless as one word, but wouldn't be surprised if money-less was written with a hyphen. – anotherdave Nov 16 '15 at 10:19
  • I am torn. This answer is mostly spot on, but it goes out of its way to conceal that by using weasel wording and twisted logic. What a bummer. – RegDwigнt Nov 16 '15 at 11:00

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