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Prefixes and suffixes

Prefixes and suffixes

Author: Ben Creagh
  1. Introduce affixes.

  2. List common prefixes and their meaning.

  3. List common suffixes and their meaning.

This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English vocabulary. It will explain how prefixes and suffixes are used to create new words.

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What's an Affix, and will it fix my writing?

An affix is a part of a word (morpheme) that is attached to a word (stem) to form a new one.  Plain and simple these are the things we put in front or at the end of words to make changes to them.

There are two main affixes that important to know.  The prefix and suffix are common and knowing these make learning new words easier.

In this lesson we’ll go over and list some common prefixes and suffixes

Even the words prefix and suffix have the concepts we’re learning about in them!  Pre means before and suffix means after.


Prefix happens before a word stem

Pre         Affix      Suf

Suffixes happen after a word stem

Source: Ben Creagh

Common Prefixes and their meanings

Here is a list of common prefixes, their meaning with an example of how it is used.  It is suprising that the highlighted prefixes account for a huge percentage of prefixes encountered in the English Language.

Most Common Prefixes

Prefix Meaning Examples    
anti- against antifreeze    
de- opposite defrost    
dis-* not, opposite of disagree    
en-, em- cause to encode, embrace  
fore- before forecast    
in-, im- in infield    
in-, im-, il-, ir-* not injustice, impossible  
inter- between interact    
mid- middle midway    
mis- wrongly misfire    
non- not nonsense    
over- over overlook    
pre- before prefix    
re-* again return    
semi- half semicircle    
sub- under submarine    
super- above superstar    
trans- across transport    
un-* not unfriendly    
under- under undersea    
*Most frequent. The four most frequent prefixes account for 97 percent of prefixed words in printed school English.



Common suffixes and their meaning

Here are some common suffixes, and their meaning.  If you stop and think about how many words we can make from one word stem, it is incredible.  Once again, note that four of the suffixes are used the most in the English Language. 



Most Common Suffixes    
Suffix Meaning Key Word  
-able, -ible can be done comfortable  
-al, -ial having personal characteristics of
-ed* past-tense verbs hopped  
en made of wooden  
er comparative higher  
-er, one who worker, actor  
-est comparative biggest  
-ful full of careful  
ic having linguistic characteristics of
-ing* verb form/ running present participle
-ion, -tion, act, process occasion, attraction -ation, ition
-ity, -ty state of infinity  
-ive, -ative, -itive adjective form plaintive of a noun
-ity, -ty without fearless  
-ly* characteristic of quickly  
-ment action or process enjoyment  
-ness state of, condition of kindness  
-ous, -eous, -ious possessing the joyous qualities of
-s, -es* more than one books, boxes  
-y characterized by happy  
*Most frequent. The four most frequent suffixes account for 97 percent of suffixed words in printed school English.