Prefixes & Suffixes

Team English -
Created by: Team English -, Last Updated: July 3, 2024

Prefixes & Suffixes

Prefixes and Suffixes are groups of letters added to the beginning or end of a word to change its meaning or form a new word. A prefix is added to the start of a root word, altering its meaning, such as “un-” in “unhappy” to indicate not happy. A suffix is added to the end of a root word, often changing its grammatical function, like “-ness” in “happiness,” transforming the adjective “happy” into the noun “happiness.” Understanding prefixes and suffixes helps in decoding unfamiliar words, enhancing vocabulary, and improving language comprehension and usage.

What are Prefixes & Suffixes?

Prefixes and suffixes are sets of letters added to the beginning or end of a word to change its meaning. Prefixes (e.g., “un-” in “undo”) modify the word’s meaning, while suffixes (e.g., “-ness” in “kindness”) change its grammatical function. These elements help expand vocabulary and clarify meaning in English.

Examples of Prefixes and Suffixes

  1. Un-: Unhappy (not happy)
  2. Re-: Rewrite (write again)
  3. Pre-: Preheat (heat before)
  4. Dis-: Dislike (not like)
  5. Mis-: Misunderstand (understand wrongly)
  6. Non-: Nonexistent (not existing)
  7. Over-: Overcook (cook too much)
  8. Sub-: Submarine (underwater vessel)
  9. Inter-: International (between nations)
  10. Trans-: Transatlantic (across the Atlantic)
  11. -ed: Talked (past tense of talk)
  12. -ness: Kindness (state of being kind)
  13. -ful: Hopeful (full of hope)
  14. -ly: Quickly (in a quick manner)
  15. -tion: Education (the act of educating)
  16. -ment: Enjoyment (state of enjoying)
  17. -able: Readable (can be read)
  18. -less: Fearless (without fear)
  19. -ous: Dangerous (full of danger)
  20. -ish: Childish (like a child)

Prefix and Suffix Examples Sentence

  1. She felt unhappy about the decision.
  2. I had to rewrite my essay after receiving feedback.
  3. Please preheat the oven before baking the cake.
  4. I dislike waking up early in the morning.
  5. He misunderstood the instructions completely.
  6. The concept of ghosts is often considered nonexistent.
  7. Be careful not to overcook the pasta.
  8. The submarine explored the depths of the ocean.
  9. The international conference attracted delegates from around the world.
  10. The transatlantic flight took about eight hours.
  11. She talked about her trip to Europe.
  12. His kindness towards strangers is admirable.
  13. She remained hopeful despite the challenges.
  14. The cat moved quickly to catch the mouse.
  15. The school provides excellent education for its students.
  16. He found great enjoyment in reading books.
  17. The font is readable on all devices.
  18. The soldier was fearless in the face of danger.
  19. The storm created dangerous conditions on the road.
  20. His behavior was rather childish for his age.
  21. The instructions were unclear, causing confusion.
  22. She decided to reorganize her closet.
  23. He often prejudges people before getting to know them.
  24. The disagreement led to a heated argument.
  25. They had to miscalculate the total cost.
  26. His idea was dismissed as nonsense.
  27. The project is unfinished and needs more work.
  28. The substandard performance was disappointing.
  29. The interaction between the two was fascinating.
  30. The bridge was designed to withstand transcontinental travel.

Prefixes and Suffixes List

Prefixes and Suffixes List

Uses of Prefixes and Suffixes

  1. Change the meaning of a word: Adding a prefix or suffix can alter the meaning of the original word.
    • Example: “happy” to “unhappy” (not happy)
  2. Indicate tense: Suffixes can modify a verb to show past, present, or future tense.
    • Example: “talk” to “talked” (past tense)
  3. Form nouns: Adding suffixes can turn verbs or adjectives into nouns.
    • Example: “kind” to “kindness” (state of being kind)
  4. Create adjectives: Suffixes can convert nouns or verbs into adjectives.
    • Example: “hope” to “hopeful” (full of hope)
  5. Show opposites: Prefixes often create the opposite meaning of the root word.
    • Example: “agree” to “disagree” (not agree)
  6. Express repetition: Prefixes can indicate that an action is repeated.
    • Example: “write” to “rewrite” (write again)
  7. Specify number: Prefixes can denote quantity or order.
    • Example: “bi-” in “bicycle” (two wheels)
  8. Indicate location or direction: Prefixes can suggest location or direction.
    • Example: “sub-” in “submarine” (underwater vessel)
  9. Modify degree or size: Prefixes can change the degree or size of the word.
    • Example: “over-” in “overcook” (cook too much)
  10. Form adverbs: Suffixes can transform adjectives into adverbs.
    • Example: “quick” to “quickly” (in a quick manner)

Prefixes and Suffixes Exercises

Exercise 1: Form New Words

Create new words by adding prefixes or suffixes to the following root words.

  1. Happy (prefix and suffix)
  2. Write (prefix)
  3. Heat (prefix)
  4. Like (prefix)
  5. Understand (prefix)
  6. Exist (prefix)
  7. Cook (prefix)
  8. Marine (prefix)
  9. Nation (prefix)
  10. Atlantic (prefix)

Answers for Exercise 1:

  1. Unhappy, Happiness
  2. Rewrite
  3. Preheat
  4. Dislike
  5. Misunderstand
  6. Nonexistent
  7. Overcook
  8. Submarine
  9. International
  10. Transatlantic

Exercise 2: Match the Words

Match the words with their correct meanings.

  1. Unhappy a. Not possible
  2. Rewrite b. Between nations
  3. Preheat c. Full of hope
  4. Dislike d. Before heating
  5. Misunderstand e. Not happy
  6. Nonexistent f. Write again
  7. Overcook g. Not like
  8. Submarine h. Cook too much
  9. International i. Underwater vessel
  10. Impossible j. Understand wrongly

Answers for Exercise 2:

  1. e
  2. f
  3. d
  4. g
  5. j
  6. c
  7. h
  8. i
  9. b
  10. a

Exercise 3: Sentence Completion

Complete the sentences using the correct prefix or suffix.

  1. She was very ____ (happy) with her gift.
  2. You need to ____ (heat) the oven before baking.
  3. I had to ____ (write) the essay.
  4. He often ____ (understand) instructions.
  5. The project is ____ (finished).

Answers for Exercise 3:

  1. Unhappy
  2. Preheat
  3. Rewrite
  4. Misunderstand
  5. Unfinished


How do prefixes affect word meaning?

Prefixes modify the original word’s meaning. For example, “pre-” means before, so “preview” means to view beforehand.

How do suffixes affect word form?

Suffixes can change a word’s part of speech or meaning. For example, adding “-ly” to “quick” forms the adverb “quickly.”

Can a word have both a prefix and a suffix?

Yes, a word can have both. For instance, “unhappiness” has the prefix “un-” and the suffix “-ness.”

What are common prefixes?

Common prefixes include “un-” (not), “re-” (again), “pre-” (before), and “dis-” (opposite of).

What are common suffixes?

Common suffixes include “-ing” (action), “-ed” (past tense), “-er” (one who), and “-able” (capable of).

Are there rules for adding suffixes?

Some rules include dropping the final “e” in “love” to add “-ing” (loving) and doubling the final consonant in “plan” to add “-ed” (planned).

Can prefixes have multiple meanings?

Yes, for example, “re-” can mean “again” (redo) or “back” (return).

Are there negative prefixes?

Yes, prefixes like “un-,” “in-,” “non-,” and “dis-” create negative meanings, like “unhappy,” “incorrect,” “nonstop,” and “dislike.”

How do suffixes create nouns?

Suffixes like “-ment” (enjoyment), “-tion” (celebration), and “-ness” (kindness) turn verbs and adjectives into nouns.

How do suffixes create adjectives?

Suffixes like “-ful” (joyful), “-less” (hopeless), and “-ous” (dangerous) turn nouns and verbs into adjectives.

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