Postfix Vs. Suffix – Difference Explained (With Examples)

This article explores the differences between postfix and suffix, two terms that are often used in different contexts.

In linguistics, a suffix is an affix that is added to the end of a root word to modify its meaning. It is a common linguistic tool used to create new words or alter the grammatical function of existing words. Examples of suffixes include -er and -ful.

On the other hand, in programming, postfix is a notation used to describe a system where operands are placed before the operator. This notation is commonly used in expressions and calculations.

While some sources may use postfix and suffix interchangeably, it is important to note that they have distinct meanings in their respective fields.

This article will provide a comprehensive explanation of postfix and suffix, their usage in linguistics and programming, and provide examples to illustrate their differences.

Postfix Definition

Postfix, as defined in programming and computers, refers to the placement of operands before operators in an expression, distinguishing it from the linguistic term suffix.

In programming, postfix notation has its pros and cons. One advantage is that it eliminates the need for parentheses, as the order of operations is determined by the position of the operands. This can make expressions easier to read and write. However, postfix notation can be challenging to understand for beginners, as it deviates from the conventional infix notation used in mathematics.

On the other hand, suffixes play a significant role in language evolution. They can modify the meaning of words and create new words. Suffixes like -er and -ful are commonly used to change the form or meaning of a root word. Understanding suffixes is essential for grasping the nuances of language and expanding vocabulary.

Suffix Definition

The definition of a suffix in linguistics refers to the affix that is attached at the end of a root word. Suffixes play a significant role in word formation and meaning. They can change the grammatical category of a word, such as transforming a verb into a noun or an adjective.

Examples of common suffixes in different languages include the English suffixes -er and -ful, which respectively indicate the comparative form and the state of being characterized by something. In Spanish, the suffix -ito is used to indicate smallness or endearment, as in the word ‘gatito’ meaning ‘kitten.’

Suffixes provide additional information about a word’s meaning, such as indicating tense, number, or gender. They allow for the creation of new words and add versatility to a language’s vocabulary.

Usage in Linguistics

Linguistics researchers often utilize suffixes to study the formation and meaning of words in various languages. Suffixes are affixes that are added to the end of a root word, altering its meaning or grammatical function. They are commonly used to create new words or to modify existing ones.

For example, the suffix -er can be added to the word ‘teach’ to create ‘teacher,’ indicating a person who teaches. Similarly, the suffix -ful can be added to the word ‘help’ to create ‘helpful,’ indicating that something is full of or characterized by help.

These examples demonstrate how suffixes play a crucial role in language by allowing speakers to convey specific meanings and nuances.

Usage in Programming

Programming languages often utilize postfix notation to represent mathematical expressions by placing the operands before the operators. This notation has both advantages and disadvantages.

One advantage is that it eliminates the need for parentheses and reduces the complexity of expression evaluation. Additionally, postfix notation allows for easy implementation of stack-based algorithms, making it efficient for compilers and interpreters.

However, one disadvantage is that it can be difficult for humans to read and write, as it deviates from the traditional infix notation. Some common programming languages that support postfix notation include Forth, RPN, and some versions of Lisp.

In Forth, for example, the syntax for addition would be ‘4 5 +’ and for multiplication would be ‘2 4 6 */’.

Overall, postfix notation offers a unique and useful way of representing mathematical expressions in programming languages.


Examples of postfix notation in programming include placing the operands before the operators, such as ‘4 5+6+’ and ‘2 4 x 6 /’. This notation is commonly used in programming languages, such as Reverse Polish Notation (RPN), where the operands are placed before the operators to perform mathematical calculations.

In addition to postfix notation in programming, there are also common suffixes used in the English language. Suffixes are syllables or letters added at the end of a word to modify its meaning. Some examples of common suffixes include -er, which is added to a word to indicate a person or thing that performs a specific action (e.g., teacher, writer), and -ful, which is added to a word to indicate fullness or abundance (e.g., beautiful, helpful). Suffixes play an important role in expanding the vocabulary and conveying different shades of meaning in the English language.

Below is a table summarizing some common suffixes used in the English language:

Suffix Meaning Example
-er Person or Thing Teacher
-ful Fullness or Abundance Beautiful
-ant Pertaining to or Doing Brilliant
-able Capable or Worth Comfortable

By understanding postfix notation in programming and common suffixes in the English language, one can enhance their understanding of both programming and linguistics.

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