affix prefix suffix

AFFIXES: WORD FORMATION

A prefix is a letter or a group of letters that appears at the beginning of a word and changes the word’s original meaning. A suffix is a letter or a group of letters that is usually added onto the end of words, to change the way a word fits into a sentence grammatically.

Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs all tend to use different suffixes, so this makes it a little easier to remember! Collectively, prefixes and suffixes are known as ‘affixes’.

Combining forms

When you are learning the different types of prefixes, it is important to remember that not every word containing these combinations is a prefix. Sometimes words have ‘combining forms’, which look very similar to prefixes but work differently!

Let me explain….

As you know, a prefix is a letter or a group of letters that appears at the beginning of words, but it can also be removed from the base word, and the word would still be a word without it, even if the meaning changes.

For example, non- means ‘not’ or ‘without’, this is used in words such as ‘nonsense’. The word ‘sense‘ can be separated from the prefix and it would still be a word on its own, even if the meaning is different.

Combining forms are similar to prefixes, and are sometimes known as ‘chameleon prefixes’, because they act like them and appear at the beginning of words like them, BUT the combining form is intrinsic to the word, meaning it is a part of the word and cannot be removed. They are called ‘chameleons’, because they change their spelling and physical form to suit the word they are attached to!

So, combining forms act as prefixes but are different, because the remaining letters cannot be separated to form an independent word.

PREFIX

MEANING

EXAMPLE

COMBINING FORM

MEANING

EXAMPLE

com-, con-

with, alongside

comprise, connote

com-, con-

with, jointly

companion, comrade, community

contra-

against

contraindicate

contra-

against

contraceptive, contradict

de-

opposite

devalue

de-

down, away

descend

ex-

former

ex-husband

ex-

out

exhort

a-

not, without

amoral

a-, an-

not, without

apathy, anaemic

in-

not

inconvenient

in-

into

inebriate, indulge

homo-

same

homograph, homophone

homo-

same

homogeneous

magn-

great

magnate

magn-

great

magnificent, magnanimous, magnitude, magnify

para-

beside

paragraph, paramedic

para-

beside

paradox

sub-

under

submarine

sub-

under

substitute

trans-

across

transnational, transparent

trans-

through, across

transmit, transcend

tri-

three

triangle, tripod

tri-

three

triceps, triathlon

 

Prefixes

A prefix is a letter or a group of letters that attaches to the beginning of a word and helps to indicate or modify its meaning. An easy example would be the word ‘prefix’ itself! It begins with the prefix pre-, which means ‘before’.

It is quite important to understand what different prefixes mean as they can help to understand the meanings of any new vocabulary that you learn. However, you do need to be careful, as sometimes a prefix can have more than one meaning!

An example would be im-, this can mean ‘not’ or ‘into’.

Here is a list of the most common prefixes:

PREFIX

MEANING

EXAMPLES

ante-

before

antenatal, anteroom, antedate

anti-

against, opposing

antibiotic, antidepressant, antidote

circum-

around

circumstance, circumvent, circumnavigate, circumference 

co-

with

co-worker, co-pilot, co-operation

de-

off, down, away from

devalue, defrost, derail, demotivate

dis-

opposite of, not

disagree, disappear, disintegrate, disapprove

em-, en-

cause to, put into

embrace, encode, embed, enclose, engulf

epi-

upon, close to, after

epicentre, episcope, epidermis

ex-

former, out of

ex-president, ex-boyfriend, exterminate

extra-

beyond, more than

extracurricular, extraordinary, extra-terrestrial

fore-

before

forecast, forehead, foresee, foreword, foremost ,foretell 

homo-

same

homosexual, homonuclear, homoplastic

hyper-

over, above

hyperactive, hyperventilate, hyperbolic 

il-, im-, in-, ir-, non-, un-

not

impossible, illegal, irresponsible, indefinite, nonessential, unkown

im-, in-

into

insert, import, inside

infra-

beneath, below

infrastructure, infrared, infrasonic, infraspecific

inter-, intra-

between

interact, intermediate, intergalactic, intranet

macro-

large

macroeconomics, macromolecule

micro-

small

microscope, microbiology, microfilm, microwave

mid-

middle

midfielder, midway, midsummer

mis-

wrongly

misinterpret, misfire, mistake, misunderstand

mono-

one, singular

monotone, monobrow, monolithic

non-

Not, without

nonsense, nonentity, nondescript, 

omni-

all, every

omnivore, omnipotent, omniscient 

para-

beside

parachute, paramedic, paradox

post-

after

post-mortem, postpone, post-natal

pre-

before

prefix, predetermine, pre-intermediate

re-

again

return, rediscover, reiterate, reunite

semi-

half

semicircle, semi-final, semiconscious

sub-

under

submerge, submarine, sub-category, subtitle

super-

above, over

superfood, superstar, supernatural, superimpose, superfluous

therm-

heat

thermometer, thermostat, thermodynamic

trans-

across, beyond

transport, transnational, transatlantic

tri-

three

triangle, tripod, tricycle

un-

not

unfinished, unfriendly, undone, unknown

uni-

one

unicycle, universal, unilateral, unanimous




Suffixes 

A suffix is a letter or a group of letters that is usually attached to the end of a word to form a new word, as well as alter the way it functions grammatically.

Depending on whether it is a noun, verb, adjective or adverb, a different suffix would be required. For example, the verb read can be altered to become the noun reader by adding the suffix ­-er. The same verb can also be turned into the adjective readable by adding the suffix –able.

It is just as important to understand the definitions of suffixes as prefixes, because they too help us to deduce the meanings of any new words that we learn. I have listed some of the most common suffixes below:

 

SUFFIX

MEANING

EXAMPLE

NOUN SUFFIXES

-acy

state or quality

democracy, accuracy, lunacy

-al

the action or process of

remedial, denial, trial, criminal

-ance, -ence

state or quality of

nuisance, ambience, tolerance

-dom

place or state of being

freedom, stardom, boredom

-er, -or

person or object that does a specified action

reader, creator, interpreter, inventor, collaborator, teacher

-ism

doctrine, belief

Judaism, scepticism, escapism

-ist

person or object that does a specified action

Geologist, protagonist, sexist, scientist, theorist, communist

-ity, -ty

quality of

extremity, validity, enormity

-ment

condition

enchantment, argument

-ness

state of being

heaviness, highness, sickness

-ship

position held

friendship, hardship, internship

-sion, -tion

state of being

position, promotion, cohesion

VERB SUFFIXES

-ate

become

mediate, collaborate, create

-en

become

sharpen, strengthen, loosen

-ify, -fy

make or become

justify, simplify, magnify, satisfy

-ise, -ize

become

publicize, synthesize, hypnotize

ADJECTIVE SUFFIXES

-able, -ible

capable of being

edible, fallible, incredible, audible, responsible

-al

having the form or character of

fiscal, thermal, herbal, colonial

-esque

in a manner of or resembling

picturesque, burlesque, grotesque

-ful

notable for

handful, playful, hopeful, skilful

-ic, -ical

having the form or character of

psychological, hypocritical, methodical, nonsensical, musical

-ious, -ous

characterised by

pious, jealous, religious, ridiculous

-ish

having the quality of

squeamish, sheepish, childish, foolish, selfish

-ive

having the nature of

inquisitive, informative, attentive

-less

without

meaningless, hopeless, homeless

-y

characterised by

dainty, beauty, airy, jealousy

ADVERB SUFFIXES

-ly

related to or quality

softly, slowly, happily, crazily, madly

-ward, -wards

direction

towards, afterwards, backwards, inward

-wise

in relation to

otherwise, likewise, clockwise

 

 

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