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1. Prefixes

Prefixes are particles or syllables added to the beginning of a word to modify its meaning.
He is sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
He is disobeying the rules.

2. Types of prefixes

There are different types of prefixes, but they can be grouped into two categories:

  • Prefixes that allow us to form antonyms, that is, the opposite of a word. Although most of these prefixes can modify nouns, adverbs, and even verbs, we will focus on adjectives. Some of the most common ones are:
    Prefix Root word Opposite Root word Opposite
    IN- Convenient Inconvenient Correct Incorrect
    Complete Incomplete Secure Insecure
    IM- Possible Impossible Polite Impolite
    Patient Impatient Mature Immature
    UN- Reliable Unreliable Fair Unfair
    Friendly Unfriendly Happy Unhappy
    DIS- Honest Dishonet Obedient Disobedient
    Satisfied Dissatisfied Organized Disorganized
    IR- Regular Irregular Responsible Irresponsable
    Relevant Irrelevant Resistible Irresistible
    IL- Legal Illegal Logical Illogical
    Legible Illegible Legitimate Illegitimate
    There are no established rules for using these prefixes, so we will have to look in the dictionary to know which one we should use.
  • Prefixes that have a meaning of their own. They can modify verbs, nouns and adjectives. Some of the most common ones are:
    Prefix Root word New word Root word New word
    ANTI- Social Antisocial Virus Antivirus
    EX-
    Boyfriend Ex-boyfriend President Ex-President
    MIS-
    Spelt Misspelt Behave Misbehave
    OVER-
    Crowded Overcrowded Weight Overweight
    RE-
    Do Redo Paint Repaint
    UNDER-
    Cooked Undercooked Paid Underpaid

Remember!

Prefixes are groups of letters added to the beginning of a word to modify its meaning. They can modify a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb.
Opposites Own Meaning
IN- Convenient / Inconvenient ANTI- Capitalist / Anti-capitalist
IM- Polite / Impolite EX- Girlfriend / Ex-girlfriend
UN- Do / Undo MIS- Understand / Misunderstand
DIS- Like / Dislike OVER- React / Overreact
IR- Responsible / Irresponsible RE- Build / Rebuild
IL- Legal / Illegal UNDER- Weight / Underweight

 

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