A prefix has the power to change the meaning and grammatical role of the original word. Improve your technical writing skills by refining your comprehension of how words are strung together to form meaning. Master the art of effective writing by examining the role of prefixes.
A prefix is a meaningful unit of letters attached to the beginning of a word
Adding a prefix to a word changes the meaning or grammatical role of the original word.
The following is a list of some common prefixes, their meanings, and examples of the prefix attached to a word.
Anti- : against: antifreeze / antilock / antibacterial
Ab- / Abs- : away, from, separated: absent / abhor / abstract
Ambi- / Amphi- : both, around, combining from: amphitheater / amphibian / ambivalent / ambidextrous
Co- / Com- / Con- : with, together: connect / contain / comply
De- : down from, reverse, remove, out of, derived from: descend / decide
Di- / Dif- / Dis- : separation, negation, apart, in different directions: discharge / dismember / dislike
In- / Im- / Il- / Ir- : not: injustice / impossible / irresponsible / illegal
Mis- : wrongly / not: misunderstand / misfire / misgivings
Non- / Un- : not: nonsense / nonsmoker / unkind / unravel
Pre- : before, in front of: pretest / preview / prewriting
Pro- : in favor of or advancing: proponent / propel / progress
Re- / Retro-: backwards, back, again: retrograde / review / revision
Semi- : half of: semiannual / semicircle
Sub- : under, up from under, secondary action: submarine / subvert / subsequent / sublet
Syl- / Sym- / Syn- : united, together with, same as: synchronize / symbol / symmetry
Tra- / Trans- : beyond, across, through, on or to the other side: transgress / transatlantic / transcending
Some prefixes are very similar to one another, and can sometimes cause confusion when you are trying to use prefixes to determine the meaning or definition of a word. Here are four groups of look-a-like prefixes: