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Prefix

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English

A prefix is a type of affix and is attached to the beginning of a base word (or root) to change its meaning.

What is a Prefix?

The word prefix itself begins with the prefix pre , which means "before" or "in front of." It is attached to the root word fix , which means " attach ."

Prefixes are always derivational, meaning that once a prefix is used, it leads to a word with an entirely new meaning from the base word. They are bound morphemes meaning that they can appear only as part of a larger expression.

When the prefix " un " is added to the base word " happy " it leads to the word " unhappy ," the complete opposite of the base word.

Since prefixes alter the meaning of the word they are also called preformative , meaning that they affect something that comes later.

What is Prefix as a Verb?

As a verb, "prefix" implies placing in front of

"Redo" : re is prefixed to the base word do , to alter the meaning to do it again.

What is Prefix as a Noun?

As a noun, a prefix is an affix attached to the beginning of a base word to alter the meaning forming a derivative word

"Polyglot": the prefix poly (meaning: many ) is attached to the base word glot (meaning: speaking or writing in a language ), to form a new word (polyglot) which is used to refer to a person who knows and is able to speak in more than one language.

What are some examples of Prefixes?

The following table shows a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of prefixes.

Examples of Prefix that negate a word:

There are certain prefixes that lead to a new word with the opposite or nearly opposite meaning of the base word.

Prefix Meaning Examples
a / anlack of, without, not asymmetric, atheist, anaemic
away away, not abnormal, absent
anti contrary to, against anti-inflammatory, antisocial
countercontrary to, against counter-argument, counterproposal
de undo, remove deter, deactivate
exprevious, former ex-husband
il not, without illegal, illogical
in thenot, without improper, impossible
in no, lacking injustice, incomplete
irnot irreplaceable, irregular
non not, lacking non-fiction, nonnegotiable
U.Nnot, lacking unkind, unresponsive

Examples of common prefixes in English:

Some prefixes don't necessarily negate the meaning of a base word but just alter it to express relationships of time, place or manner.

Prefix Meaning Example
ante before, prior to anterior, antebellum
automobile self autobiography, autograph
bi twobicycle, binomial
circum around, to go around circumnavigate, circumvent
cojointly, together copilot, coworker
ditwodiatomic, dipole
extrabeyond, more extracurricular
hetero differentheterogeneous, heterosexual
homo samehomogeneous, homosexual
interin between intersect, intermittent
midmiddle midpoint, midnight
prebefore preschool
post nachpost workout
semipartialsemicircle

Should you Hyphenate or Not?

Keep in mind that there are no rigid rules regarding when you must use a hyphen to separate a base word from its prefix.

1. Use a hyphen with a proper noun

Nevertheless, you must use a hyphen if a prefix is attached to a proper noun.

  • Pre-World War I.
  • Anti-american

2. Avoid ambiguity

A hyphen should be used with a prefix in cases where it may lead to confusion over meaning or spelling.

Re-cover vs Recover

The words re-cover (cover again) and recover (return to normal state) have different meanings.

3. Do Not Allow the Same Vowels to Double Up

If a prefix ends with the same vowel that the base word starts with, use a hyphen to separate the two.

  • Re-enter
  • Ultra-argumentative

NOTE: There may be exceptions to this rule with the vowel "o".

Coordinate is correct whereas coowner is incorrect.

In such cases using a spellchecker may prove to be helpful.

4. Use a hyphen with "Ex" and "Self"

There are certain prefixes such as "ex" and "self" that are always followed by a hyphen.

  • Ex-wife
  • self-control

What is the Importance of Prefix in English?

Knowing how to use prefixes will make you more proficient in the language and improve your vocabulary. It will also allow you to convey information in a more concise and precise manner.

Using the word " reestablish " instead of " establish it again " will allow for more concise communication.

Prefix - Key takeaways

  • A prefix is a type of affix and is attached to the beginning of a base word (or root) to change its meaning.
  • The word prefix itself is the combination of the prefix - pre and the base word - fix.
  • Some examples of prefix are - ab, non, and ex.
  • A hyphen must be used to prevent ambiguity, when the root word is a proper noun, when the last letter of the prefix is the same as the first letter of the root word, and when the prefix is either ex or self .

Prefix

A prefix is a type of affix, that is a group of letters attached before the root word, which changes its meaning. 

Some examples of prefix are bi, counter and ir

Common prefixes are those that alter the meaning of the root word, to express relationships of time, place or manner. Some examples are: ante, co, and pre

In English, prefixes are attached before the base word. They may or may not be separated by a hyphen. 

The prefix a/an mean not or without

Final Prefix Quiz

Question

What is a prefix?

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Answer

A prefix is a type of affix that is attached before the root word, to change its meaning. 

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Question

What do we mean when we say prefixes are derivational?

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Answer

By derivational, we mean that the prefix changes the meaning of the base word. 

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Question

What are common prefixes? 

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Answer

Common prefixes are those that alter the meaning to express relationships of time, place or manner. 

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Question

What does the prefix poly mean?

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Answer

Many 

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Question

Give an example of a prefix that negates a word 

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Answer

Prefix (il) + Base word (logical) = illogical 

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Question

Which prefix negates a word? 

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Answer

none of the options 

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Question

Which of the following has a common prefix?

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Answer

autobiography 

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Question

Which of the following is the correct form?

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Answer

Anti-American 

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Question

Fill in the blank:

He had to ___ the topics for those who missed his class

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Answer

re-cover 

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Question

When do we use a hyphen? 

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Answer

When the base word is a proper noun 

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Question

Which are the prefixes that always use a hyphen? 

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Answer

Ex and Self 

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Question

What is the importance of prefix?

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Answer

Prefixes allows for concise and precise communication 

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