A prefix is something that is added to the beginning of the word to change its meaning. For example, adding the prefix “un” to “happy” creates a new word, “unhappy.” When students master the use of prefixes, their vocabulary increases tremendously. With our worksheets and resources, your students will learn how to use prefixes properly and improve their reading comprehension and writing skills.
Learn More About Prefixes
A prefix is what is called an “affix”— an additional element placed at the beginning or end of a root, stem or word to modify its meaning. Another type of affix is a suffix
, an element added to the end of the word. The four most common prefixes account for more than 95 percent of prefixed words. They are dis-
Other common prefixes include:
- dis- (not or none): dislike, disappear, disagree, disconnect, disinfect
- in- (not): injustice, insincere, informal, inadequate, indirect
- re- (again): reappear, revise, replay, refresh, review
- Un- (not): unfriendly, unhappy, unwell, unkind, unafraid
anti- : antifreeze, antiwar
fore- : forecast, foresee
inter -: interact, interstate
mid- : midday, midway
mis- : misfire, misspell
non- : nonsense, noncommunicative
over- : overlook, overpass
pre- : prefix, predestined
semi- : semicircle, semidarkness
sub- : submarine, subconscious
super- : superstar, superachiever
trans- : transport, transaction
Some important points to remember when adding prefixes:
- The base word never changes. Simply add the prefix to the beginning of the word.
Double letters can occur when adding prefixes. Beware or words that look like prefixes but are not.
Examples: unnatural, illogical, irregular
Examples: uncle, antique, interest
Some base words, when a prefix is added, need a hyphen to avoid ambiguity. Follow these rules when adding hyphens to prefixes.
- Hyphenate when adding a prefix before a proper noun or numeral.
Examples: un-American, pre-2017
- Hyphenate when adding the prefix “ex,” meaning former.
Examples: ex-husband, ex-president
- Hyphenate after the prefix “self.”
Examples: self-control, self-directed
- Hyphenate to separate the e’s and i’s.
Examples: anti-intellectual, re-election
- Hyphenate some words with the “re” prefix to avoid ambiguity in meaning.
Examples: re-create (to create again), re-cover (to cover again)