I thought that -ality was used to turn an adjective into a noun : bestial to beastiality, final to finality.

But I see that some people add it onto the end of nouns : criminal to criminality, position to positionality.

What do you think?

  • 4
    "Criminal" is also an adjective – sumelic Oct 5 '17 at 0:27
  • Do you mean like adding "ity" to the military rank of General to produce generality?? – Gary's Student Nov 11 '17 at 1:31
  • Take a closer look at your own examples. You’re not adding -ality to bestial to form bestiality – it would be *bestialality then. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 31 '18 at 15:40

There are three parts to the answer:

We are not adding '-ality', but '-ity'.
Bestial + -ity = Bestiality
Criminal + -ity = Criminality
Final + -ity = Finality
Positional + -ity = Positionality
Functional + -ity = Functionality

In each of these examples, we are adding -ity to an adjective and turning it into a noun. Criminal can be noun as well as an adjective. For example, "criminal offence", so can be positional, e.g. 'positional reference'.

So your original hypothesis is correct (with slight adjustment to the suffix). We add -ity to the adjectives ending into -al to form a noun.

As to your question about the change in meaning. The change is that now you are talking about the phoenomenon of the quality. Finality is a state or phenomenon of the quality 'being final'.


I believe that you would call -ity a nominalising suffix or noun suffix, which is one that converts other words into nouns.

There are many other such suffixes, for example -ing, -ism, and -ness.

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