EnglishGrammarPrefix and Suffix – Meaning, Definition, Practice Questions and Examples

Prefix and Suffix – Meaning, Definition, Practice Questions and Examples

Prefixes and suffixes are word parts added to the beginning or end of a word to change its meaning or function. Prefixes, added to the beginning, often change the meaning of a word, while suffixes, added to the end, typically change the word’s form or part of speech.
For example, consider the prefix “un-” added to “happy” to create “unhappy,” signifying not being happy. Similarly, the suffix “-er” added to “teach” forms “teacher,” referring to someone who teaches.
Understanding prefixes and suffixes helps in understanding the meanings of unfamiliar words and enhances our vocabulary. For instance, knowing that “un-” denotes negation helps us understand “unhappy” as the opposite of happy. Moreover, these Prefixes and suffixes enable word creation. By adding a prefix or suffix to an existing word, we can modify its meaning or usage. For example, appending “re-” to “build” produces “rebuild,” denoting the act of constructing something anew.

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    Spelling Rules to Be Followed When Adding a Prefix or a Suffix

    When forming new words in English by adding suffixes or prefixes, spellings often change. To aid in this process, English has made a few spelling rules for easier recall and application. These rules are particularly important when modifying words with prefixes or suffixes.

    When adding a prefix

    When using certain prefixes in English, like “non” and “ex,” you may need to add a hyphen between the prefix and the base word. For instance, “non-profit” and “ex-president” follow this rule. However, with most prefixes, such as “un-” in “unhappy,” you can directly attach them to the base word without changing its spelling. This means you simply write the prefix followed by the base word, as in “happy” becoming “unhappy.”

    When adding a suffix

    When adding a suffix to a word, certain spelling conventions must be adhered to in English. One common guideline is to double the final consonant of the base word if it ends in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel before adding a vowel suffix.
    For example, “run” changes to “running” or “stop” transforms into “stopped.”
    However, this principle doesn’t apply if the final consonant is preceded by a vowel digraph or a diphthong, as in “train” becoming “training.”
    Additionally, when appending a suffix starting with a vowel to a word ending in a silent “e,” the “e” is generally dropped.
    For instance, “hope” changes to “hoping.”
    Remembering these guidelines ensures accurate spelling when affixing suffixes to words. Following these conventions maintains consistency in English spelling and prevents confusion in written expression. Comprehending these spelling rules also aids in effective vocabulary expansion and word formation. Practicing these guidelines through exercises and examples can enhance spelling skills and overall language proficiency.

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    List of Commonly-Used Prefixes and Suffixes with Examples

    The most common prefixes are as follows

    • Un-: Unhappy, unable.
    • Re-: Rewrite, return.
    • In-: Inactive, incomplete.
    • Dis-: Disagree, disappear.
    • Pre-: Prepaid, predict.
    • Mis-: Misunderstand, misinterpret.
    • Over-: Overcooked, overjoyed.
    • Sub-: Submarine, subway.
    • Inter-: Interact, international.
    • Under-: Underestimate, underpaid.
    • Trans-: Transport, transform.
    • Super-: Supermarket, superstar.
    • Anti-: Antisocial, antibiotic.
    • Post-: Postpone, postwar.
    • Non-: Nonprofit, nonstop.
    • Semi-: Semifinal, semiannual.
    • Co-: Coexist, cooperate.
    • Ex-: Ex-president, exit.
    • Multi-:Multinational, multicolored.
    • Mid-: Example: Midway, midnight.
    • Fore-: Foresee, forehead.
    • Auto-: Automobile, autobiography.
    • Hyper-: Hyperactive, hypersensitive.
    • Un-: Undo, unlock.
    • Bi-: Bicycle, bilingual.
    • Per-: Perfect, perceive.
    • Anti-: Antifreeze, antisocial.
    • Sub-: Submarine, substandard.
    • Tele-: Telephone, television.
    • Dys-: Dysfunction, dyslexia.

    The most common suffixes are

    -able (comfortable, adaptable)
    -ful (graceful, helpful)
    -less (fearless, careless)
    -ly (happily, quickly)
    -ment (enjoyment, development)
    -ness (kindness, darkness)
    -tion (information, decoration)
    -ity (diversity, creativity)
    -ous (curious, dangerous)
    -ible (visible, sensible)
    -ive (creative, attractive)
    -ed (excited, interested)
    -ing (running, swimming)
    -er (teacher, painter)
    -est (biggest, smallest)
    -ize (organize, realize)
    -ist (artist, scientist)
    -ship (friendship, relationship)
    -able (lovable, teachable)
    -ist (journalist, scientist)
    -ful (peaceful, joyful)
    -ive (creative, active)
    -less (fearless, endless)
    -ment (excitement, movement)
    -al (natural, personal)
    -ify (simplify, clarify)
    -ize (organize, realize)
    -ward (backward, forward)
    -ness (happiness, kindness)
    -ous (famous, dangerous)

    Also Check: Homonyms

    List of Words with a Prefix and a Suffix

    Prefix and a Suffix
    Word Prefix Suffix
    Unbelievable Un- -able
    Discomfortable Dis- -able
    Misunderstanding Mis- -ing
    Unhappiness Un- -ness
    Overcompensation Over- -tion
    Underdevelopment Under- -ment
    Anticlockwise Anti- -wise
    Noninterventionist Non- -ist
    Prejudicially Pre- -ly
    Counter- -ive
    Unconventional Un- -al
    Interconnectedness Inter- -ness
    Disorganization Dis- -ion

    Frequently Asked Questions on Prefix and Suffix

    What is the difference between a prefix and a suffix?

    A prefix is a word part that comes at the beginning and changes its meaning, while a suffix is a word part that comes at the end of a word and also alters its meaning. For example, in the word unhappiness, un- is the prefix, and -ness is the suffix

    How do prefixes and suffixes affect the meaning of a word?

    Prefixes and suffixes can change the meaning of a base word by adding new ideas or altering its grammatical function. For instance, adding the prefix un- to the word happy changes it to unhappy, indicating the opposite meaning. Similarly, attaching the suffix -ness to happy forms happiness, which refers to the state or quality of being happy.

    Can a word have both a prefix and a suffix?

    Yes, a word can contain both a prefix and a suffix. For example, in the word unhappily, un-serves as the prefix, altering the word's meaning to indicate the absence of happiness, while -ly functions as the suffix, transforming the adjective unhappy into the adverb unhappily to describe how something is done.

    What are the rules of suffixes and prefixes?

    Suffixes are added to the end of a word to change its meaning, while prefixes are added to the beginning. Rules for suffixes include understanding how they modify the root word, such as turning verbs into nouns by adding -ment (e.g., improve to improvement). Prefixes often denote location, quantity, or negation, like un- meaning not (e.g., happy to unhappy).

    How do you identify a suffix?

    To identify a suffix, look for groups of letters attached to the end of a word that alter its meaning. Common suffixes include -ing, -ed, and -able. They usually come after the root word and may change the word's part of speech or tense.

    What are 10 examples of prefix?

    Ten examples of prefixes include: Un- meaning not (e.g., unhappy) Re- meaning again (e.g., redo) Pre- meaning before (e.g., preview) Dis- meaning not or opposite of (e.g., disagree) Anti- meaning against (e.g., antibacterial) Sub- meaning under (e.g., submarine) Mis- meaning wrongly (e.g., misunderstand) Over- meaning excessive (e.g., overwhelm) Inter- meaning between (e.g., interact) Ex- meaning former or out (e.g., ex-president).

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