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English Grammar Lesson – Starting Off with a Prefix November 9th, 2018

Prefixes and suffixes are letters added to the beginning or end of a word. Prefixes and suffixes are not words and cannot stand alone in a sentence. They do, however, carry a lot of meaning — if you know what they mean. A couple of letters can change the entire meaning of a word. Different letters stand for different meanings, and the more you learn, the better you become at spelling and at decoding new vocabulary.

This month, we are focusing on prefixes. In another blog post, we’ll focus on suffixes.

Take a look at these prefixes, their meanings, and example words:

  1. dis- (meaning: not, opposite of) disagree, disembark, disengage
  2. in-, im-, il-, ir- (meaning: not) injustice, impossible, illogical, irrelevant
  3. mis- (meaning: wrongly) misdiagnose, misfire
  4. mid- (meaning: middle) midway, midweek
  5. pre- (meaning: before) preview, predestined
  6. re- (meaning: again) return, replay, retake, reassess
  7. semi- (meaning: half) semicircle, semiannual, semiformal, semiweekly
  8. sub- (meaning: under) submarine, subterranean
  9. trans- (meaning: across) transport, trans-Atlantic, transcontinental
  10. under- (meaning: under) undersea, underfoot
  11. super- (meaning: above) superficial, superhuman, superimpose
  12. inter- (meaning: between) interact, interject
  13. fore- (meaning: before) forecast, foretell
  14. de- (meaning: opposite) defrost, degrade, dehumidify, demerit
  15. non- (meaning: not) nonsense, nonexistent, nonessential, nonfiction, nonfat

This is just a small list of the many, many prefixes used in the English language! Knowing these can help you decode a brand new vocabulary word and guess at its meaning with the help of context. For example,

mishear, misunderstanding, misbehave, misplace

We now know that the prefix mis- means “wrongly.” If you mishear something, you heard it incorrectly. If you misunderstood something, you understood it incorrectly, and so on.

Next time you’ve got a book, magazine, or newspaper in front of you, take a look at some of the words and see if you can’t spot one of these many common prefixes!

Bonus: Look up centi- and milli-pede!