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Prefix vs Suffix: What’s the Difference?

Prefix vs Suffix

Prefix vs Suffix

A prefix comes before the root of the word. For example, “unhappy” uses “un-” to mean not happy.

Suffixes go at the end and can change a word’s job in a sentence. Like “playful,” where “-ful” shows a quality of being full of play.

So, prefixes change what a word means, and suffixes change what a word does.

Common Prefixes

Prefixes are small but mighty parts of language that we attach to the beginning of words. These prefixes can turn a word into its opposite, show a direction, or indicate a number.

Here are some of the most common prefixes in the English language.

This table lists common prefixes, meanings, and examples.

Dis-not/opposite ofdisapprove
En-/Em-cause toencode/embrace
Il-/Ir-notillegal, irresponsible

Common Suffixes

Common suffixes are the finishing touches that change how a word works in a sentence. They transform verbs into nouns, adjectives into adverbs, or give new qualities to words.

Here’s a table with the suffix, meaning, and example:

-able/-ibleable to besuitable/visible
-al/ialhaving characteristics ofpersonal/influential
-edpast tense verbskipped
-enmade ofwooden
-er (comparative)comparativeolder
-er (one who)one whocarpenter
-fulfull ofbeautiful
-ichaving characteristics oficonic
-ingpresent participle verbshopping
-ity/-tystate ofscarcity/cruelty
-ive/-active/-itiveadjective from a noundestructive/initiative/fugitive
-lycharacteristic ofquickly
-mentaction or processachievement
-nessstate of/condition offorgiveness
-ous/eous/iouspossessing the qualities offamous/courteous/suspicious
-s/-esmore than oneshoes/dresses
-ycharacterized bydirty

Suffixes come at the end of words. These little endings can help us express actions, qualities, states of being, and much more.

Fun Fact

“Antidisestablishmentarianism” is one of the longest words with both prefixes and suffixes.

The Fun Side of Prefixes and Suffixes

Playing with prefixes and suffixes isn’t just educational. It can also be a lot of fun. One way is that you can mix and match them to create new words.

Here are some examples of invented words.

  • Unbend – To straighten something that was bent.  (Prefix: “Un-” meaning not or opposite of)
  • Rewiden – To make something wider that was previously narrowed. (Prefix: “Re-” meaning again)
  • Unboredify: This could mean to make something interesting again, combining “un-” (not) with “bored” and “-ify” (to make)

Invented words can be whimsical, insightful, or just plain fun. Try them out for yourself.

Prefixes vs Suffixes

Prefixes and suffixes help us change words to make new meanings. They can also make language fun and interesting, showing us how flexible and creative it can be.

We’d love to hear what you think. Drop a comment below with any cool prefixes and suffixes you’ve come up with. Let’s get creative together for our word inventions.

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