Prefixes are groups of letters added before the root of a word to change its meaning. They are used before many words. For example, in the word prefix, pre – itself is a prefix (meaning before). Prefixes can be used for a number of purposes, for instance they can telling us quantities (bimonthly means twice a month), or making the word mean the opposite of the original (such as happy and unhappy). The following two exercises will help test some of your knowledge of prefixes:
To test the prefix knowledge you already have, use the examples below each prefix to match the prefix to its meaning.
- Tele- (telescope) (a) twice or by twos
- Pre- (preview) (b) one, same, whole
- Mis- (misunderstanding) (c) again, back
- De- (delete) (d) under or low
- Re- (revisit) (e) not
- Un- (unimpressed) (f) remove or reduce
- Bi- (biweekly) (g) wrong, bad
- Uni- (unisex) (h) many, (usually more than two)
- Multi- (multiply) (i) far, distant
- Sub- (subway) (j) before
Answers to Exercise 1:
1. i 2. j 3. g 4. f 5. c 6. e 7. a 8. b 9. h 10. d
Can you think of three more words in English for each of the prefixes above?
Do you know the meaning of all these possible answers:
- Television, telephone, telefocal
- Previous, predict, predetermine
- Misadventure, misappropriate, misunderstood
- Debug, deforest, decentralise
- Return, review, recover
- Unhappy, unwell, unmasked
- Bicycle, biannual, bimonthly
- Unicycle, universe, unidirectional
- Multiple, multinational, multi-millionaire
- Substandard, subtract, submarine.
Prefixes for opposites
There is a variety of prefixes that can be used to make opposites (usually to create negative versions of the root word). There are no real rules about which one is most appropriate – try to learn the correct prefix for the most common words.
The following groups of words each use the same prefix to create an opposite meaning. Match them to the prefix.
- happy, lucky, important, stoppable, tidy, in
- possible, pregnable dis
- reparable, responsible, regular im
- honest, agree, organized, appear mis
- logical , legal un
- decisive, correct, capable il
- understand , inform, calculate ir
Can you think of three more words for each prefix?