Prefixes and suffixes pdf

Prefixes and suffixes




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Prefixes and suffixes in English: what is it?

These are letters that attach to a basic word to transform it into a new word (it can be a noun, an adjective, a verb or an adverb). Prefixes go in front, and suffixes go behind that word.

The same word can have one or more translations depending on the prefix or suffix that is added to it, and there are many of them!

⚠️ Prefixes and suffixes each have a meaning, for example:

  • the prefixes dis-, il-, im-, ir- have a negative value, opposite: appear → disappear
  • the prefix un- means the opposite: friendly → unfriendly
  • the prefix mis- means ‘wrongly’: understand → misunderstand
  • the suffix -ity has an exaggeration value: brutal → brutality
  • the suffix -wards implies the direction: back → backwards

and so on….

The prefixes

Here are the main English prefixes in a table.

Prefixes Example
co- co-worker, co-pilot, co-operation
de- devalue, defrost, derail, demotivate
dis- disagree, disappear, disintegrate, disapprove
em-, en- embrace, encode, embed, enclose, engulf
ex- ex-president, ex-boyfriend, exterminate, ex-wife
extra- extracurricular, extraordinary, extra-terrestrial
fore- forecast, forehead, foresee, foreword, foremost
il- illegal
im- import, impossible, impolite
in- inside, insert, indefinite
inter-, intra- interact, intermediate, intergalactic, intranet
ir- irresponsible
micro- microscope, microbiology, microfilm, microwave
mid- middle, midway, midsummer
mis- misbehave, mistake, misunderstand, misread
mono- monotone, monobrow, monolithic
out- outpatient, outive sb
over- overstate, overrated
post- post-mortem, postpone, post-natal, post-war
pre- prepaid, preschool
re- return, rediscover, refresh, reunite
sub- submerge, submarine, sub-category, subtitle
super- superfood, superstar, supernatural, supermarket
trans- transport, transnational, transatlantic, transparent
tri- triangle, tripod, tricycle
un- unfinished, unfriendly, undone, unknown, unable, unhappy
under- undergournd, underestimate
uni- unicycle, universal, unilateral, unanimous
up- uproot, upgrade
mini- minivan, minimarket

⚠️ We use im- instead of in- with words that start with the letter m or p: There are a few rules to remember:

  • impolite
  • impossible

⚠️ Many words with a prefix or suffix have a base that does not exist by itself, for example immediate (the word mediate alone does not exist).


It’s the same as for prefixes except that they are added at the end!

⚠️ The same word can have different meanings depending on the suffixes assigned to it, and can transform it into a noun or adjective:

  • read + er = reader 
  • read + able = readable

⚠️ you can also put both a prefix and a suffix to certain words!

  • un + read + able = unreadable 
Suffix Example
-acy democracy, accuracy, lunacy
-al remedial, denial, trial, criminal
-ance, -ence nuisance, ambience, tolerance
-dom freedom, boredom, kingdom
-ee employee, trainee
-er, -or reader, creator, interpreter, inventor, collaborator, teacher
-holic alcoholic
-hood brotherhood, childhood, neighbourhood
-ism communism, scepticism, socialislm
-ist geologist, protagonist, sexist, scientist, theorist, communist
-ity, -ty brutality, equality, cruelty
-ment government, argument
-ness happyness, highness, sickness
-ship friendship, hardship, internship, relationship
-sion, -tion position, promotion, cohesion
-ate irritate, collaborate, create, complicate
-en sharpen, strengthen, loosen, harden, soften
-ify, -fy justify, simplify, magnify, satisfy, clarify
-ise, -ize publicise, synthesise, hypnotise
-ible edible, incredible, audible
-able, -ible usable, laughable
-al fiscal, thermal, herbal, colonial
-ese Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese
-en broken, golden, wooden
-esque picturesque, burlesque, grotesque
-ful handful, playful, hopeful, skilful, armful, useful
-ic, classic, Islamic, poetic
-ical psychological, hypocritical, methodical, nonsensical, musical
-ious, -ous jealous, religious, ridiculous
-ish spanish, british, childish
-ive inquisitive, informative, attentive
-less meaningless, hopeless, homeless
-ly daily, monthly, weekly
-y dainty, beauty, airy, jealousy
-est biggest
-ly softly, slowly, happily, crazily, madly, easily
-ward, -wards towards, afterwards, backwards, inward
-wise otherwise, likewise, clockwise



One comment

  1. Misael Lima says:

    The word “mediate” does exist. It can mean “to settle (disputes, strikes, etc.)”.

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