Welcome to our article on prefixes! If you’re learning English grammar, you’ve probably come across these little word bits before. But what exactly are prefixes, and how do they work? In this article, we’ll explore the basics of prefixes and give you some examples to help you understand how they can change the meaning of words.
What is A Prefix?
A prefix is a group of letters that we add to the beginning of a word to create a new word with a different meaning. Prefixes can change the meaning of a word, make it negative, or indicate relations of time, place, or manner.
For example, the prefix “un-” means “not.” When you add “un-” to the word “happy,” you get “unhappy,” which means “not happy.” Similarly, the prefix “pre-” means “before.” When you add “pre-” to the word “view,” you get “preview,” which means “a view before the main event.”
Prefixes can be one to three letters long. Some common prefixes include “anti-,” “dis-,” “in-,” “im-,” “re-,” and “un-.” Each of these prefixes has a different meaning and can change the meaning of a word in a specific way.
Types of Prefixes
In English grammar, prefixes are added to the beginning of a base word to modify its meaning. There are several types of prefixes, including negative, time and number, size and degree, and distance and direction prefixes.
Negative prefixes are used to negate the meaning of a word. Some common negative prefixes include “un-” (e.g. unhappy), “dis-” (e.g. disagree), and “non-” (e.g. nonstop). These prefixes are often used to create antonyms, or words with opposite meanings.
Time and Number Prefixes
Time and number prefixes are used to indicate time or quantity. For example, the prefix “bi-” means “two” (e.g. bicycle), while the prefix “tri-” means “three” (e.g. tricycle). Other common time and number prefixes include “milli-” (e.g. millisecond), “centi-” (e.g. centimeter), and “mega-” (e.g. megabyte).
Size and Degree Prefixes
Size and degree prefixes are used to indicate size or degree. For example, the prefix “micro-” means “small” (e.g. microscope), while the prefix “macro-” means “large” (e.g. macroeconomics). Other common size and degree prefixes include “mini-” (e.g. miniskirt), “maxi-” (e.g. maxi dress), and “ultra-” (e.g. ultraviolet).
Distance and Direction Prefixes
Distance and direction prefixes are used to indicate distance or direction. For example, the prefix “tele-” means “far” (e.g. television), while the prefix “trans-” means “across” (e.g. transport). Other common distance and direction prefixes include “inter-” (e.g. international), “intra-” (e.g. intranet), and “sub-” (e.g. submarine).
List of Common Prefixes in English
- Meaning: without, lack of, not
- Example: amoral, acellular, abyss, achromatic, anhydrous
- Meaning: before, earlier, in front of
- Example: antecedent, antedate, antemeridian, anterior
- Meaning: against, opposite of
- Example: anticlimax. antiaircraft, antiseptic, antibody
- Meaning: self, same
- Example: autopilot, autobiography, automobile, autofocus
- Meaning: around, about
- Example: circumvent, circumnavigate, circumscribe
- Meaning: with, together
- Example: co-pilot, co-worker, co-exist, co-author
- Meaning: together, with
- Example: companion, commingle, contact, concentrate
- Meaning: against, opposite
- Example: contradict, contrast, contrary, controversy
- Meaning: down, off, away from
- Example: devalue, deactivate, debug, degrade, deduce
- Meaning: not, apart, away
- Example: disappear, disagreeable, disbar, dissect
- Meaning: put into, cover with
- Example: embrace, embed, enclose, entangle, enslave, encase
- Meaning: out of, from, former
- Example: extract, exhale, excavate, ex-president
- Meaning: beyond, outside, more than
- Example: extracurricular, extramarital, extravagant
- Meaning: different, other
- Example: heterosexual, heterodox, heterogeneous
- Meaning: same, alike
- Example: homonym, homophone, homeostasis, homosexual
- Meaning: over, more, beyond
- Example: hyperactive, hypersensitive, hypercritical
il-, im-, in-, ir-
- Meaning: not, without
- Example: illegal, immoral, inconsiderate, irresponsible
- Meaning: between, among
- Example: intersect, interstellar, intervene, interpenetrate
- Meaning: within, inside
- Example: intravenous, intragalactic, introvert
- Meaning: large, prominent
- Example: macroeconomics, macrostructure, macrocosm
- Meaning: very small
- Example: microscope, microcosm, microbe
- Meaning: one, single, alone
- Example: monocle, monologue, monogamy, monotony
- Meaning: not, without
- Example: nonentity, nonaggressive, nonessential, nonfiction
- Meaning: all, every
- Example: omniscient, omnivorous, omniscient, omnidirectional
- Meaning: after, behind
- Example: postmortem, posterior, postscript, postoperative
- Meaning: before, forward
- Example: precede, predict, project, prologue
- Meaning: under, lower
- Example: submarine, subsidiary, substandard
- Meaning: same time, together
- Example: symmetry, symposium, synchronize, synapse
- Meaning: from or over a distance
- Example: telecommunications, telemedicine, television, telephone
- Meaning: across, beyond, through
- Example: transmit, transaction, translation, transfer
- Meaning: three, every third
- Example: tricycle, trimester, triangle, triathlon
- Meaning: not, lacking, opposite of
- Example: unfinished, unskilled, ungraceful, unfriendly
- Meaning: one, single
- Example: unicorn, unicellular, unicycle, unilateral
- Meaning: to the top or north, higher/better
- Example: upbeat, updo, upgrade, upload, uphill, upstage, upscale, up-tempo
Prefix Usage in Sentences
Prefixes are an essential part of English grammar, and they play a crucial role in the formation of words. In this section, we will discuss the usage of prefixes in sentences. We will cover the usage of prefixes in nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
Prefixes in Nouns
Prefixes can be used to form new nouns. For example, the prefix “un-” can be used to form the noun “uncertainty,” which means the state of being uncertain. Similarly, the prefix “re-” can be used to form the noun “recovery,” which means the act of recovering.
Prefixes in Verbs
Prefixes can also be used to form new verbs. For example, the prefix “pre-” can be used to form the verb “preview,” which means to see or show something in advance. Similarly, the prefix “re-” can be used to form the verb “rethink,” which means to think again.
Prefixes in Adjectives
Prefixes can also be used to form new adjectives. For example, the prefix “un-” can be used to form the adjective “unhappy,” which means not happy. Similarly, the prefix “dis-” can be used to form the adjective “disagreeable,” which means unpleasant.
Prefix Exercises with Answers
Learning prefixes is an essential part of mastering English grammar. To help you practice, we have compiled a list of prefix exercises with answers. These exercises will help you test your knowledge and improve your understanding of prefixes.
In this exercise, you will be given a list of prefixes and a list of words. Your task is to match the correct prefix with the corresponding word. Here are a few examples:
Answers: Unhappy, Disagree, Impossible
Fill in the Blanks
In this exercise, you will be given a sentence with a missing prefix. Your task is to fill in the blank with the correct prefix. Here are a few examples:
- The _____legal activity was reported to the authorities.
- I _____agree with your point of view.
- She _____believed his story.
Answers: 1. Il-, 2. Dis-, 3. Mis-
Multiple Choice Questions
In this exercise, you will be given a sentence with a prefix and a missing word. Your task is to choose the correct word that completes the sentence. Here are a few examples:
- The _____legal activity was reported to the authorities. a. Legal b. Illegal c. Unlegal
- I _____agree with your point of view. a. Agree b. Disagree c. Misagree
- She _____believed his story. a. Believed b. Unbelieved c. Misbelieved
Answers: 1. B, 2. B, 3. C
By practicing these exercises, you will improve your understanding of prefixes and be able to use them correctly in your writing and speaking. Keep practicing and you’ll see the results!
Common Prefixes | Infographic
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