What is the Difference Between a Prefix and Suffix?

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In the English language, a prefix or suffix can be added to a root word to modify its meaning. A prefix comes before the root word, and a suffix comes after. The prefix and suffix are known as affixes, or additions to a word, and are differentiated by their placement against a word.

Common prefixes include un-, dis-, mal-, non-, mid-, and mini-, while common suffixes are –ed, -s, -es, -ing. Suffixes often indicate the tense or number of a word, but can also be used to indicate the part of speech. For example, adding –ly to the end of a word often indicates that word is an adverb. The prefix and the suffix can take on different meanings depending on the root word it precedes or succeeds, and therefore they are reliant on the root word and cannot stand alone.


In many cases, adding a prefix or suffix to a word changes the meaning of that word entirely. For example, the word "latch" means to secure or fasten. But by adding the prefix un- to the root word to create "unlatch," the meaning has been changed to mean release or let free. In this case, the addition of a prefix has made the word mean the opposite of the root word. Taking that same root word and adding the suffix –ed to create "latched" changes the tense of the word. While the root word takes place in the present tense, by adding –ed the action indicated by the word now has taken place in the past.

The roles of the prefix and the suffix have been embellished over the course of centuries, and it is not uncommon to see new words being formed by the addition of one or both. For example, television personality Stephen Colbert recently coined the term, "truthiness" by adding a suffix to the word "truth" to indicate an idea or concept that has elements of truth to it but is not necessarily the truth. While the word is somewhat nonsensical, the addition of the –ness suffix made the word catchy and many linguists applauded the new creation.


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Post 2

Subway11-I think that studying the Latin prefix and suffix with words helps you to understand the meaning as well.

Learning Latin really allows you to understand English prefix and suffix and to understand the logical mechanics of the English language.

It is said that Latin is by far the most logical and orderly language that will allow you to understand English grammar and understand English vocabulary that you may not have ever seen.

Many of the Scripps Spelling Bee winners have studied either etymology or Latin in depth in order to understand the spelling of words as well as their meaning.

It also allows you to pick up foreign languages in an easier manner. For

example, if you have studied Latin and no other foreign language and then decide to study Spanish, you will find that you will understand much of the Spanish language without ever studying it.

For example, in Latin the word luna is moon and in Spanish the word luna also means moon.

It is believed that the romance languages like Spanish and French are derived 80% from Latin. Latin is a very valuable language even though it is no longer spoken. It will help with any prefix and suffix test.

Post 1

Prefix and suffix lesson plans should include a series of spelling words with the suffix and prefix as well as the meaning.

Often a prefix and suffix meaning can tell us a little information on the meaning of the word. For example, a pretest is a test given before the actual test.

A preview is a term used to allow someone to see something before a general event occurs. This allows the prefix and suffix lesson plans to introduce the prefix pre which means before.

A student therefore understands that adding pre in front of a word indicates before. Just like added de in front of the word gives it the opposite meaning.

For example

, destabilize means to create an environment that is not stabilized.

The word deemphasizes means to not focus or emphasize an aspect of something. The prefix un also has the same effect as in the word uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable means that you are not comfortable with something. Sites like abc teach and offer free prefix and suffix worksheets.

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