Improve Your Vocabulary: Prefixes Part 1

If you can get a good knowledge of prefixes, it can really help you to understand many more words, and to learn more words too! It's an effective way to increase your vocabulary.

Note: Troy and I recommend only products that we have tried and tested. These include the popular vocabulary-improvement software Ultimate Vocabulary.*

First of all, what is a prefix? Well, they're little words or letters that are added to the start of a word, that modify or qualify its meaning. They often originate from Greek or Latin words — hyper-, for example, is from the Greek word "huper" meaning over or beyond.

For example, say you have the base word active. If you add the prefix hyper- (meaning above, beyond) to it, you get hyperactive, meaning abnormally very active. If you add the prefix in- (meaning not) to it, you get inactive, meaning stationary, or not moving.

If you have a good knowledge of these little components of words, you will increase your comprehension of what you read, and it will help you build your vocabulary in a very effective manner.

Here are just a few of the more common prefixes, for starters. Part 2 of this article has a longer list of prefixes.

Prefix Meanings Examples
ante- before antenatal, antecedent
anti- against, opposed to antibacterial, antipathy
auto- self, by itself, spontaneous autograph, automatic
bi- two bicycle, biennial

in front, before

foregoing, forecourt
mis- wrongly mistake, misconduct
re- again, once more, afresh reassess, repeat
sub- below, lower, smaller submarine, subcontract
tri- three triangle, tripod
un- not, abscence, lack of unnecessary, unrest

Ultimate Vocabulary can also help you learn prefixes, with many useful features such as Flashcards and a built-in dictionary to show you how words are constructed, and the etymology of the words you're learning.

*Troy and I have agreed to receive a commission from some sales of the Ultimate Vocabulary software because we are happy to endorse that software.


Last modified on Tuesday, 17 November 2015 04:35
English Language Skills (Denise)

English Language Skills (Denise)

I'm a syndicated puzzle writer, with 8 puzzle books to my name, including Word Searches for Dummies and Cracking Codes and Cryptograms for Dummies (with Mark Koltko-Rivera). I have a background in science and graphic design, and am a trained indexer. My favourite puzzles are cryptic crosswords. and my favourite books are murder mysteries and cookbooks. I am also a very keen knitter.

I write a blog all about puzzles, called Puzzling.

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