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Using prefixes

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Tutor: Jonathan

Summary

Using prefixes 

In a nutshell 

A prefix is a letter or group of letters placed at the beginning of a word to create a new word with a different meaning. Prefixes are placed at the front of a 'root' word. In this summary, you will learn the meanings of common prefixes and how to use them.



Prefixes

Prefixes can be added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning. They can be made up of one letter or a group of letters.


Prefix

Meaning

example Prefix+Root word

un-
not
unhappy (un+happy), uncomfortable (un+comfortable)
over-
too much
overestimate (over+estimate), overcooked (over+cooked)
trans-
across, beyond
transplant (trans+plant), transform (trans+form)
bi-
two
bicolor (bi+color), biweekly (bi+weekly)
tri-
three
triangle (tri+angle), tricycle (tri+cycle)
semi-
half, partly
semi-final (semi+final), semicircle (semi+circle)
aero-
air-related
aeroplane (aero+plane), aerospace (aero+space)
micro-
small
microscope (micro-scope), microwave (micro+wave)
tele-
distance
telephone (tele+phone), television (tele+vision)
photo-
light
photosynthesis (photo+synthesis), photocopy (photo+copy)



Hyphens in prefixes

Sometimes adding a prefix can create a word that looks identical to another. In this case, a hyphen is used to clarify the meaning.


Example

I re-sent you the email this morning. (I sent the email again this morning.)

I resent your accusation. (I feel bitter that you accused me of something I did not do.)


Tip: Hyphens are sometimes used if a prefix ends in a vowel and the root word begins in a vowel. This makes it clearer when reading and writing words.

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Exercises

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Where are prefixes found?

When do I use a hyphen in a prefix?

What is a prefix?

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