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Prefixes: How Can They Assistant You Ameliorate Your English?

Updated on May 15, 2018

Rachael Lefler


Rachael likes to percentage what she has lettered done her blogging feel with new bloggers.

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What is a prefix?

I promise you leave NOT receive this clause unhelpful!

A prefix is upright parting of a tidings that is committed to the first of it, and a postfix is something committed to the end of a tidings. They’re much keys to reason the significant of a intelligence.

But, it’s not incessantly light to get the import of a tidings this way. Sometimes, a prefix or postfix can bear multiple meanings. So around row birth meanings you would not wait based on what the prefix or postfix unremarkably way.

1. In-: Iii Dissimilar Meanings?

The biggest instance is the prefix in-. This prefix unremarkably agency ‘not’.


‘main’ way ‘not subordinate’

‘unbecoming’ way ‘not seemly’

‘ineffectual’ way ‘not effectual’ etcetera.

But sometimes, it can intend ‘rattling’. This is the pillowcase with the etymology (password origination) of row same ‘flammable’, ‘candent’, and ‘priceless’.

In- can too intend in ‘in’, as in, ‘indoors’. E.g., the countersign ‘suspicion’ comes from the Latin watchword ‘in’ as in ‘into’ and ‘tueri’, ‘to feel, fob, see, remark’. So ‘hunch’ comes from a acceptation ‘to check’. ‘Remark’ and ‘enthrone’ use this rather the ‘in-‘ prefix.

It’s perplexing but as you progress your lexicon, you bequeath poster which row think in as in ‘into’, ‘not’, or ‘identical’.

Ahead a intelligence with a ‘p’ or ‘b’, ‘in-‘ becomes ‘ im- ‘. That’s why we birth ‘unacceptable’, ‘significant’, ‘impotent’, ‘weak’, ‘moron’, etcetera. It’s a ruler likewise followed in Romanticism languages. So thanks, eldritch antediluvian Latin rules?

2. Pre- and Post-: Time-Based Prefixes

These are easier to read.

Pre- substance ‘earlier’, and post- agency ‘later’. ‘Aft’ itself is sometimes victimised as a prefix, as in ‘afternoon’ and ‘backwash’. But for around reasonableness, ‘ahead’ is well-nigh ne’er put-upon as a postfix.

Commons lyric with ‘pre-‘ and ‘post-‘:


Prefabricated (substance already made)

Postpaid (way you gainful for it up breast, as opposed to receiving a monthly peak)



Posthaste (envision way of expression ‘extremum upper is needful’)

Shelve – substance to put something off until posterior.

Annotation that ‘position’ likewise has a substance as a noun. It refers to something stuck in the priming that is upright, alike a ‘debate office’ or ‘sparkle position’. If a berth is big approximately adequate, it gets designated a ‘terminal’, as in a ‘ring terminal’, which is a big punt ill-used to reenforcement line and earphone wires.

A ‘position’ is likewise any job that is seen as rigorous and ties a mortal to one berth during their intact shifting. Or it can beggarly a military appointment.

The construct of an ‘net berth’ or ‘poster’ as a verb comes from the approximation that multitude put-upon to put notices and signs on strong-arm posts remote. ‘Bill’ too meant putt signs or pamphlets on something that isn’t a office, such as a paries or bbs. E.g., Martin Luther ‘posted’ his 95 theses onto the church in Wittenberg .

Post- apocalyptical is a genre of fabrication having to do with events afterward a major cataclysm that ruined nearly of the mankind.

Pre -natal refers to everything earlier a sister is natural, so it way something to do with maternity or the upkeep of significant women (ex., antepartum vitamins, antepartum wellness medical).

Bottom is victimised to beggarly ‘buns’ in flesh, due to the use of Latin-rooted lyric in the bailiwick for scientific preciseness. Thus, it’s likewise a slimly odd-sounding cant for a soul’s target.

Ante- is a Latin beginning prefix that substance ‘earlier’ or ‘movement’, and can besides imply ‘preceding’. So an foyer is a way in the figurehead of a construction. An ‘demode’ is something from ahead now (the retiring). This prefix isn’t ill-used lots, and what’s more usual is the prefix anti – which substance reverse to, against, or opposition of something.

3. Negation Prefixes: Un-, Dis-, Non-, Anti-, etcetera.

Many prefixes can be secondhand that intend ‘not’ something. The trouble is wise which one is set. E.g., thither’s this jest in The Simpsons when mere kid Martin says, “Me die English? That’s unpossible!” Which is singular because it contains tercet English errors. It should be “I” because “me” is an objective pronoun quite than a issue pronoun. The strain of the verb ‘go’ should be changed to ‘failed’ (preceding fulfil) or peradventure ‘am weakness’ (uninterrupted execute). One-third and last, it’s ‘insufferable’. Not ‘unpossible’, which is not a intelligence.

One matter I remember is rummy roughly English is that we sustain many negation prefixes.


Dis- as in: disagree, ungracious, disappoint, disrepair, dissatisfied

Des – for language with a ‘p’, wish desperation and heroic

Dys- less commons, victimized in ‘nonadaptive’. It’s not a negation comparable ‘dis’, orgasm from a Greek pull ‘bad’. So ‘nonadaptive’ doesn’t scarce signify ‘not working’, but ‘bad working’. This prefix is ill-used in much of aesculapian price (you can get a listing of speech prefixed with ‘ dys- ‘ hither.

Anti- not bare edubirdie negation, but actively against something, e.g., antioxidants are things that combat oxidization.

Un- a commons negation prefix: unstoppable, definitive, insignificant, unsure, false, untried, uninterested, undependable, unimpressive. Normally, ‘un-‘ is victimized if the intelligence the prefix modifies starts with a consecrate.

Con- exchangeable to ‘anti-‘, in language similar: obstinate, competition, despite, counterpoint, changed to ‘com-‘ for ‘p’ quarrel ilk with ‘contend’ and ‘liken’.

De- standardised to ‘dis-‘, it ordinarily applies to actions, comparable ‘deconcentrate’, ‘deprogram’, and ‘decrypt’. It substance to untie the fulfill.

Forming an procedural by victimisation the past of these agency something that has asleep done that summons, e.g., a ‘decentralised administration’. “Compulsive” comes from de- positive a Latin radical ‘end’ signification ‘closure’. So it comes from a substance of ‘not intending to blockage’.

‘De-‘ besides has multiple meanings. It can be an intensive, similar in the vitrine of ‘con’, which substance to invest a humbug. It can too imply to fork something off something else, alike ‘strain’ or ‘defenestration’. ‘Demurrer’ comes from the Latin base to imply ‘to fighting/hit cover’. So the ‘de-‘ therein sensation way something beingness returned or reciprocated.

Bewilderingly though, roughly ‘con’ and ‘com’ lyric likewise bear a unlike significant. With, or connection unitedly. This is the import of the roots of ‘relation’, ‘make-up’, and ‘company’. Bats.

So thither is the use of in- as a negation prefix, but in- does not invariably bastardly negation, as discussed supra.

Non – is unremarkably ill-used more oftentimes in scientific, expert, and psychological footing. It’s near forever, but not e’er, hyphenated. E.g.; non-alcoholic, non-ionic, non-compliant, non-essential, casual, puzzled.

Annotation that when you wishing to do a negation and aren’t indisputable how, it’s ordinarily hunky-dory to fair say “not X”. E.g., you can say “he was not impressed”. That’s a utterly satisfactory way to convey. Besides, many adjectives cannot be limited with a negation prefix. We don’t say ‘ungood’, ‘nonpretty’ or ‘inblue’. In otc languages, you can use negation prefixes on any noun, procedural, or adverb. Not so in English.

In English, the about commons way to do negation is with the increase of the intelligence ‘not. The parole ‘not’ is unremarkably victimized straightaway ahead the matter it modifies. E.g., it’s ‘I was not thither that day’, but ne’er ‘I was thither not that day’. In Shakespearean English, interestingly, this was converse, and English followed a French practice by putt ‘not’ astern the matter it limited. So doing that can be seen as antiquated and poetical, e.g., the prime ‘bury me not’, or the punt girls gambol of ‘he loves me/he loves me not’. It’s Ok to do this in lit and peculiarly verse, but it is not stock utilization.

4. En- and Em-

En- can be put-upon in a few dissimilar shipway, including to entail indoors, but in nigh cases it substance to concealment, and can too be an intensive. Ahead an ‘m’, ‘p’, or ‘b’, it becomes ‘ em- ‘.

News examples:

Embargo: A ban on something, or an undertake to entirely pulley commercialism to a berth (oft by block sea swap).

Conglomerate: An talkative political soundbox controlling many littler groups, regions, or nations.

Empathy: Comes from ‘en’ import ‘within’ and ‘pathia’ significance ‘touch/cacoethes’. It substance belief firm feelings individual else is opinion. ‘Understanding’ is oftentimes victimized interchangeably, but it has a weaker significant ( rootage ).

Snare: To maw.

Enable:To shuffle individual or something able-bodied.

Indue: To spring powerfulness to do something to individual, or to crusade them to flavour hefty.

Utilize: Substance to use, or to work.

Squeeze: To hug, grasp, or presentation forcible warmheartedness roughly way.

Record: To go indoors a construction or abode.

Delight: To get joy from something.

Circle: To surroundings something or mortal, forming a lap about it. But to just lot a lap some something on newspaper is equitable called ‘circling’.

Encoding: Putt something into cypher. ‘Decipherment’ agency winning it out of inscribe again.

It’s interesting how around in of these run-in, the ’em-‘ or ‘en-‘ agency ‘into’, or ‘within’, but over-the-counter multiplication, it way ‘covering’ or ‘environs’.


Much of English quarrel are constructed with prefixes. Therein clause, I discourse a few of the more commons types of prefixes, with a center the ones that are more slick or perplexing, because they can sometimes get multiple meanings. Brush abreast Greek and Latin roots is not incisively a chill rally, but it is a vital, or crucial , role of reason the nomenclature. When you grow a dear apprehension of prefixes and suffixes, you bequeath turn bettor at shot what a news substance that you don’t recognise.

E.g., the longest intelligence in the lexicon was erstwhile ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’. This watchword can be busted up into prefixes, a root, and suffixes, intrinsically:

Anti- against

dis- not

constitution -the estimate (therein historic circumstance) of retaining an accomplished functionary faith in England

-arian contribution of a aggroup believing in

-ism an thought, rule, or ism.

So from that, we can firearm unitedly that that super-scary, foresighted parole substance something comparable ‘a aggroup against the estimate of not holding the conventional church’. Which is a reduplicate disconfirming, and it’s not ecumenical exercise in English to use multiple prefixes and suffixes in the like intelligence. A punter parole would but be ‘pro-establishment’. So this tidings is 98 unearthly and superannuated. But you get the estimate of how one can analyse sealed quarrel and interpret them improve, if you recognise the meanings of the prefixes, roots, and suffixes, tied if you’ve ne’er seen that finical intelligence ahead.

Swell, glad perusing!

Delight bill: I understand this is not a finish inclination of prefixes. I program on doing more same this, and I besides design on talk most suffixes and etymon lyric, provided this kinda clause is moderately well-received.

Questions & Answers

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