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Prefixes and Suffixes

Prefixes & Suffixes
Prefixes & Suffixes

Common Prefixes and Suffixes: A Quick Reference Guide 

Prefixes and suffixes are essential components of the English language. Prefixes are added to the beginning of a word and change the meaning of the word, while suffixes are added to the end of a word and change its category. For instance, the prefix ‘un’ can be added to the word ‘happy’ to make it ‘unhappy,’ and the suffix ‘-ly’ can be added to the word ‘quick’ to make it ‘quickly.’ Knowing how to use prefixes and suffixes correctly can help to improve a person’s understanding of the English language and help them to become more proficient in their writing.


What are Prefixes

Are a group of letters that come at the beginning of a word, and they change its meaning :


  • Happy/unhappy 
  • War/postwar

What are Suffixes

Are a group of letters that come at the end of a word and they change its category ( verb – noun – adjective – adverb….) :


  • Child (NOUN) / childish (ADJECTIVE)
  • Help (VERB) / helpful (ADJECTIVE)
  • lazy (ADJECTIVE) / lazily (ADVERB)

Generally speaking, there are three types of suffixes:

Verb Suffixes

These are suffixes added to adjectives or nouns to make verbs.

  • Dark (adjective) → Darken
  • Center (noun) → Centralize

Noun Suffixes

These are suffixes added to verbsadjectives, or nouns to make nouns.

  • Manage (verb) → Management
  • Serious (adjective) → Seriousness
  • Friend (noun) → Friendship

Adjectival Suffixes

These are suffixes added to nounsadjectives, or verbs to make adjectives.

  • Beauty (noun) → Beautiful
  • Economic (adjective) → Economical
  • Excite (verb) → Excited

NOTE: a word without any prefix or suffix is called the root

List of Common Prefixes

a-not, withoutamoral, atheist, apolitical
anti-against, opposed toantibiotic, antiwar, anti-virus, antifreeze
auto-self/by oneselfautobiography, autograph, autodidact, automatic
bi-twobicycle – bilingual – bilateral
co-with – togetherco-worker, co-producer, co-author
counter-against, opposingcounter-clockwise, counteract, counter-attack
de-undo / opposite action / removedepress, demotivate, decode, degenerate
dis-not / the opposite ofdislike, distrust, disable, disagree, disorganized, disarm, disadvantage, disable, disobey
en-cause to be or becomeenlarge, enrich, endanger, enable, enact
ex-former / previousex-teacher, ex-president, ex-student, ex-wife
il-not ( used before a word beginning with the letter “L” like legal)illegal, illogical, illicit, illegitimate
im-not ( used before a word beginning with the letter “m” like mature or “p” like possible)immature, impossible, improbable, imperfect, impersonal, immodest, immobile
in-not / opposite toindistinct, inaccurate, indecent, inhuman, incorrect, incapable, insufficient, incomprehensible, incomparable
in-in, movement toinsert, instill, inbuilt
inter-among / between / connectedinternational, inter-ship, intercontinental, internet
ir-not ( used before a word beginning with the letter “r” like rational)irrational, irregular, irresistible, irresponsible, irrelevant
macro-large, greatmacroeconomics, macrocosm, macroscopic
micro-smallmicrochip, microscope, microbe
mid-middlemidday, midnight, midpoint
mis-wrongly / badlymislead, mistake, misunderstand
mono-one / having onemonolingual, monosyllabic
multi-manymulticultural, multilingual, multimedia
neo-new / based on something old but in a new formneocolonialism , neoclassic , neonatal ,non-conservative
non-below / beneath / not enough, insufficientnon-governmental, nonsense, non-essential
out-more / to a greater extentoutnumber, outlive, outrage, outlaw
over-above / too muchovercook, overheat, overdo, overeat, overpaid
poly-manypolyglot ,polyclinic ,polygamy
post-after /come afterpostwar, post-conflict, post-communism, post-colonialism
pseudo-falsepseudonym ,pseudo-scientist
pre-before / come beforeprehistoric, prefix, pretest, predict, prepare
pro-in favor ofpro-American, pro-capitalist, proactive
re-back / do againredo, rewrite, rename, revisit
semi-halfsemicircle, semiannual, semiconscious
self-by oneselfself-made, self-sufficient, self-service, self-taught, selfish
half-semihalf-baked, halfway, half-time
sub-under / beneaththe submarine, subject, subordinate, subway
super-above / beyondsuperpower, superman, superstar
tele-fartelephone, telescope, telecommunicate, telescope
trans-acrosstranscontinental, transatlantic, transfer, transform
un-notunknown, unjust, unkind, unsafe, unable
under-below / beneath / not enough , insufficientunderline, under-age, underemployed, underpaid

List of Common Suffixes

Noun SuffixesMeaningExamples
-ancestate /condition or qualityacceptance, inheritance, performance, assistance
-arylike / connected with / belonging tostationary, legendary, imaginary, necessary
-domstate or conditionfreedom, boredom, wisdom
-cystate or qualityliteracy, accuracy, frequency, fluency, democracy
-encequality or statereference, conference, residence, difference
-entone whoresident, president
-erone whoteacher, writer, painter, worker, player
-hoodstate / condition / periodfatherhood, girlhood, neighborhood, adulthood
-ionact / processaction, prediction, pollution, solution, addition, 
-ismact / action / doctrinetourism, cubism, criticism, socialism, feminism
-ista person with specific knowledge, optimist, typist, specialist, stylist, socialist, novelist, 
-itystate/quality or conditionsanity, ambiguity, ability, purity, fraternity, dignity
-mentaction / processenjoyment, employment, development, movement
-nessquality/state of beingkindness, openness, darkness, awareness, happiness
-orthe person whoactor, doctor, advisor, counselor, governor, sailor
-shipstate of having a positionleadership, relationship, championship, citizenship
Adjective SuffixesMeaningExamples
-able/-iblethat can be of /capable ofdrinkable, washable, disposable, believable
-ai/ialhas the property ofpersonal, industrial, financial, critical, musical
-antquality or state / full ofassistant, distant, important, pleasant, ignorant
-entquality or statefluent, innocent, prudent, silent, different, confident
-arone who / thing which / fromregular, muscular, solar, lunar, similar
-arylike / belonging tostationary, legendary, imaginary, necessary
-enmade of (adjective)golden, wooden
-ercomparativetaller, shorter, bigger, smaller, faster
-ishlike /of a nationalitychildish, girlish, mannish, Spanish, British, foolish
-ivedisposition / character /quality  destructive, impressive, massive, productive, 
-fulfull of/withhopeful, painful, careful, joyful, skillful, peaceful
-lesswithouthomeless, childless, fearless, toothless, sleepless
-ichaving the property of / heroic, economic, automatic, periodic, allergic, fantastic
-orythe state of being/relating tosatisfactory, discriminatory, contradictory
-ousfull of / havingmarvelous, religious, famous
-ythe state of / havingsunny, rainy, happy
Verb SuffixesMeaningExamples
-ateto makecooperate, procrastinate, coordinate, decorate, 
-ento make (verb)lengthen, widen, shorten, soften, threaten
-ify, -fy make / become / causeTerrify, clarify, justify, purify, solidify,
-ize / -isebring about / makemodernize, colonize, advertise, summarise, analyze
-edpast formturned, collected, cooked, killed
Adverb SuffixesMeaningExamples
-lyeverydaily, weekly, monthly
wardsindicate direction or movement.upwards, downwards, backwards, homewards
-wiseindicating manner or directionclockwise, lengthwise, otherwise


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