You are on page 1of 3

Negative Prefixes

Some words have prefixes, and a prefix is one or more letters at the beginning of a word that
changes its meaning. If the prefix is negative, it means “opposite of” or “not”.
The following prefixes reverse or negate the meaning of the word: un-, dis-, mis- in-, il-, ir-,im-.
The negative prefix un-:

Your behavior in this class has been unacceptable, which is why I’m sending a letter
home to your parents. (The behavior is not acceptable.)

It’s unfair that she gets to watch TV and I have to clean my room! (The situation is not
fair.)

The customers were unreasonable and demanded a full refund. (The customers were not
reasonable.)

The negative prefix dis-:

You should never be dishonest when interviewing for a job. (Meaning you should always
be honest when interviewing for a job.)

Elevators and wheelchair ramps can help disabled people. (These two things help people
who are not able-bodied, meaning their bodies can’t do some things.)

Children should never be disrespectful toward their parents. (Meaning children should
always be respectful toward their parents.)

The negative prefix mis-:


He has admitted misleading the police about his movements on the night of the murder.
(to lead wrongly)
I was always getting in trouble for misbehaving at school. (to behave badly)
I was told she would be at the meeting, but clearly I was misinformed.
(to tell someone information that is not correct)

The negative prefix in-:

I like our company’s meetings, because they are always informal. (Meaning they are not
formal.)

(They were not acting mature. (The student was not logical. they always wanted to be together. (The operation is not legal. so I don’t know how anyone can understand what she writes.) The negative prefix ir-: . but companies that don’t pay their taxes are operating illegally.)  Her handwriting is illegible. so they lost the game.)  The students got in trouble for acting immature during class. i. The team was incapable of scoring. “im-“.) The prefix “in-” often changes to “il-“. (Her handwriting is not legible. Here are the rules for using them:  “il-” is used for words that begin with an “l”  “im-“ is used for words that begin with “m” or “p”  “ir-“ is used for words that begin with “r” Here are some examples: The negative prefix il-:  Companies that pay their taxes are doing business legally.) The negative prefix im-:  The waitress was extremely impolite to her customers. or able.)  The illogical student had trouble in his physics class. the twin girls were inseparable.)  Ever since they were born. depending on how the word is spelled. meaning it is not clear to read.)  It’s impossible to jump across the Grand Canyon.. or “ir-“. so please don’t try! (It is not possible. so she didn’t receive a tip. (She was not polite. (Meaning they were not capable. (Meaning they were not separable.e.

the adjective disappointed does not mean.  So. For example.)  It is important to remember that these prefixes don’t always have negative meanings. “not appointed”. recognizing when an adjective includes a negative prefix can improve your reading and comprehension skills. (Meaning “not relevant”. and can better your English! . although you have to be careful in some of these situations. (Meaning “not regular”. It can be very difficult to be productive when you have to work an irregular schedule.)  The judge ruled that the lawyer’s argument was irrelevant in the trial.