Being able to recognize prefixes (as well as suffixes) will help you guess the meaning of new words.
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Prefixes generally do not alter the word-class of the base: verbs, nouns, adjectives. They are generally added to the base as a one single word. They may also be found hyphenated to their base when the strongest stress in the word falls on the prefix, e.g. ex-president, pseudo-scientific, non-smoker. Generally the prefix receives a light stress, falling the main stress on the main word. They can be grouped by meaning.

Prefixes in use are hundreds and we can only list but a few bellow:

1. Negative and opposite prefixes:

Unfair, unadorned, unfortunately Non-conformist, non-smoker, non-returnable Invisible, incredible, insensitive Impossible, immediate, immoral Illogical, illegal, illiterate Irregular, irresponsible Disloyal, disobey, disfavour, disorder, disrespect Amoral, atheist, apolitical

2. Reversible prefixes : un- de- dis-

Undo, undress, untie Defrost, depopulate, deregulation Discourage, disinfect, disenchanted, disheartened

3. Pejorative prefixes:
Misleading, misinterpret, misbehave, misleading, misfortune Malfunction, malnutrition, maltreat, malformation. Pseudo-academic, pseudo-scientific

4. Prefixes of degree and size:

Archbishop, archduke, archenemy Hyperactive, hypertension, hypersensitive Superstar, supernatural, superman Overflow, overdo, overtake, overgrown Outbound, outnumber, outrun, outlive Surplus, surrealistic, survivor, surround, surname, surcharge Extra-thin, extraordinary Ultrasonic, ultramodern, ultraconservative, ultraviolet International, inter-city, interact Semicircle, semicolon, semi-detached, semi-skilled Vice-president, vice-chancellor Miniskirt, minibus, minicab

© Sonia Aznar 2010


Microwave, microphone, microsystem Substandard, subway, subconscious, subnormal Underestimate, undertake, undervalue, underpaid

5. Prefixes of Attitude:
Pro-abortion, pro-republican, pro-British Co-operative, co-pilot, co-proprietor, cohabitate Counterproductive, counteract, counterattack, counterespionage Antiperspirant, anti-nuclear, antidemocratic Well-equipped, well-behaved, well-dressed

6. Prefixes of time and order:

Foresee, foreplay, foreword, foreman, foretell Preheat, pre-war, pre-exist, pre-marital, pre-colonial Post-mortem, post-marital, postponed Ex-President, ex-wife Rebuild, resolution, reconstruction, relocation International, inter-city, interact

7. Number prefixes:

Unilateral, unify, unicellular Monosyllable, monotone, monogram Bisexual, bifocal, dichotomy Triangle, tricycle, tripod Multicultural, multiracial, multilingual Polygamous, polyphony, polysyllabic

8. Conversion prefixes:

Behead, bewitch, befriend, belittle Endanger, entitle, enable, encircle, Empower, embody, embed Afloat, aflame, asleep, awake

© Sonia Aznar 2010


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