Busy / Busyness / Business
The word business originally comes from the English adjective busy.
In English, many adjectives become nouns when the suffix -ness is added.
Here are some common examples:
Today the word business refers to employment or the action of engaging with others in commerce. However, the original uses of this word referred to actually being busy. This makes sense, doesn't it. If someone has a job, wouldn't they be busy? In addition, 'busiless' was once used to refer to someone at leisure or unemployed. This is not commonly used today.
The adjective busy and the suffix -ness form the word business. To avoid confusion about meaning, the word busyness, spelled with y instead of i, is used as a noun to mean simply being busy.
Think about this the next time you hear someone ask, "How's business?"
Common Errors with Compound Words
This is one of my favorite lessons to teach. Although it seems simple, many people, including native speakers of English, are unsure about the correct usage of these words and phrases.
Take a look at these two sentences. Can you say which is correct?
This is a problem I see all the time, and not just with students of English. I see this error in social media posts, books, and even news articles. The correct sentence is...
Many other examples can be found when looking at phrasal verbs that combine to form nouns.
These are only a few examples. There are many more.
Can you think of any others?
Feel free to comment or ask questions.
Count & Non-Count Nouns