Prefixes and Suffixes

Prefixes and suffixes are letters that we add to words. Both prefixes and suffixes are grammatical elements that belong to a group of words called affixes. Affixes sometimes seem like a crazy code. Indeed, they are like a code based on ancient Latin and Greek.

The word affix means in addition to. When they are combined with words or roots they produce new words with different meanings.

Examples:

root: happy

prefix: unhappy

suffix: happily

If we learn the meaning of the most common affixes we can understand the code. We can make good guesses even we don’t know the meaning of a word based on the part we recognize.

You will be able to understand thousands of English words if you know the most common Latin and Greek roots and affixes.

Knowing roots and affixes is very handy when we have to learn vocabulary related to Science, Math and Business.

Examples of common Greek and Latin roots and affixes:

Root/affixLanguageTranslationExample
antiGreekagainstantibacterial
astroGreekstarastronaut
beneLatingoodbenefit
biGreektwobiweekly
bioGreeklifebiodiversity
chronGreektimechronometer
cosmGreekworldcosmos
cracyGreekgovernmentDemocracy
cyclGreek circle, wheelbicycle
demGreekpeopledemocracy
dictLatinsaydictate
geoGreekEarthGeology
genLatinbirthGenesis
mechGreekmachineMechanic
misLatinsendmissile
ologyGreekstudyGeology
phonGreeksoundtelephone
portLatincarryportable
pyroGreekfirepyrotechnics
scopeGreekseeTelescope
terrLatinEarthterrestrial
visLatinSeevisible
Common Greek and Latin roots and affixes. Adapted from Everything you Need to Ace English Language Arts in One Big Notebook (page 79 and 80)

Practice time

  1. Based on the following words, what do you think the root “aud” might mean? audible, auditorium, audience
  2. If “scope” means to see, would you expect a spectroscope to measure light or to measure sound?
  3. Can an affix appear at the end of a word? Why?
  4. Think of other words that contain the root “cycle
  5. Create one new word using the roots and affixes from the table. Write down its meaning.

Share your answers in the comments below.

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