Mainly for advanced learners of English!
Just recently, a student asked me why some English words end with –ship and what is its meaning. This was a very good question and the answer is interesting.
The short answer is that the ending –ship changes a word from concrete to abstract. A concrete thing is something real or something you can see or hear or feel. An abstract thing is an idea or a concept or a principle.
So, a leader is concrete. Every country and every business and every organisation has leaders. So a leader is something concrete.
But leadership is abstract. It means the ideas or principles that go together with being a good leader.
In the same way, a son is something concrete. I do not have to explain what a son is –everyone knows.
But sonship is an abstract thing. Sonship means the ideas, the principles that go together with being a son.
So, another way of explaining what the ending –ship does to a word is to say that it changes the word from something concrete to what it means to be the thing.
So leadership is what is required to be a leader. Sonship is what is required to be a son. Friendship is what is required tobe a friend. Membership is what is required tobe a member.
Here are some other words ending in –ship. The first group is words that are very common and worth learning. The second group are not so common but interesting.
Group A: relationship, championship, leadership, membership, friendship, sponsorship
Group B: sonship, companionship, horsemanship, fellowship, generalship, kingship
Examples of the words in a sentence:
* Napoleon was a famous French leader who conquered much of Europe.
* One of the features of Napoleon’s leadership was that he knew all his officers and their families by name.
* In the early years of Australia nearly every person was a horseman – it was often the only means of transport.
* The first secret of horsemanship is very simple – ‘Don’t fall off the horse!’
* A person who has no friends is a very lonely person indeed.
* Friendship is always two ways; true friends accept you as you are and you must accept your friends as they are.
If you have any trouble, send me an email. Have fun!