Feb 02

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Prefixes Made Easy – Now I Know

What are prefixes?

Prefixes are groups of letters glued to the beginning of a word to make new words.

For example, you may go to the movies for the PREVIEW (PRE+VIEW) of a new movie – an advance showing of the movie before it is officially open to the public. In this example, the base word is VIEW (= see or watch something) and the prefix is PRE (= before). The two components make up the meaning of the new word PREVIEW (= watch something before others). You may think of them as parts of a puzzle that you can fit together.

Every time you learn a new word, it is a good idea to look up in a dictionary which prefixes it likes to go together with.

Suffixes are also groups of letters that we glue to the base word. Suffixes are always added to the ending of the words. Read more about suffixes here!

This table sums up the key idea of what prefixes and suffixes are. The example here is the word UNHELPFUL.



What can prefixes help you do?


  • Most often prefixes help you make opposites


dis                 im                  in                 il               un

interested    —   disinterested (=not interested)

possible    —   impossible (=not possible)

dependent   —  independent (=not dependent)

legal   —   illegal (=not legal)

happy  —  unhappy (=not happy)


  • Now let’s look at the other most common prefixes in English and their meaning:




Try an interactive vocabulary quiz on this topic.


Related post

Suffixes Made Easy

Word formation – Interactive Vocabulary Quiz

More grammar Quizzes


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