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.


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:

cyclGreek circle, wheelbicycle
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.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I’m thankful for YOU!

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October each year. Most families have a special dinner that consists mainly in turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash or turnips, cranberries sauce, and pumpkin pie. It’s a time to spend with family and friends.

Typical Canadian Thanksgiving dinner

Vocabulary related to Thanksgiving

Vocabulary related to Thanksgiving

Grammar related to Thanksgiving

Canadian families have different traditions during Thanksgiving dinner. My family has a special tradition before eating dinner. First, we say grace, which is a short prayer to give thanks. Then, each person says something they are thankful for. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks for one’s life, health, food, family, friends, work, and freedom. 

How to use the word thankful?

First let’s analyze what part of the speech is the word thankful. It’s similar to the word thank, right? The word thank is a verb, so thankful is and adjective (many adjectives have a ‘ful’ ending). Can you guess what the adverb form is? Yes, the adverb form is thankfully (many adverbs have a ‘ly’ ending). Yay! We already have made a word family.

  • thank (verb)
  • thankful (adjective)
  • thankfully (adverb)

The word thankful represents a feeling that people experience when they are happy because of someone or something. It is commonly used to express gratitude.

Thankful for someone or something


He is thankful for his wife.

I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve received during these hard times.

Thankful to do something


I’m so thankful to be alive.

She is thankful to have a job

Practice time

What are you are thankful for today?

Share your answer in the comments below.

For more details about word families, check this:


How to learn new words easily using word families

If you want to improve your English it is critical that you have a rich vocabulary. Among other skills, the ability to identify word meanings is extremely important if you want to speak fluently.

Here I am going to share five tips that will help you remember new words and their meanings easily.

Tip # 1

Identify the part of speech of the words you learn. Along with the writing or pronunciation patterns, learning the part of speech can help you remember words and create sentences more easily. The part of speech indicates how the word functions in meaning as well as grammatically within the sentence. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are examples of parts of speech.

Tip # 2

Organize your vocabulary by word families. A word family is a group of words that have a common pattern. Words that belong to the same family have the same combination of letters or a particular sound.  They are an excellent tool to learn and remember words.

Tip # 3

Look for other words that belong to the same family. Most online dictionaries display a list with nearby words or other entries for the word. Look for those entries to find out other words that belong to the same family.

(source: McMillan Essential Dictionaries Magazine, Issue 14, December 2003)

Tip # 4

Write down in your notebook all the words that belong to the same word family. Graphic word organizers are the best. You can draw a table in your notebook or download a super cool word organizer that I have created specially for my students.

Example of word families + parts of speech

Part of the speech  families  

Tip # 5

Write your own examples using each of the words that you add to your notebook or word organizer. It is crucial that you understand the meaning and how to use each word that you learn.

It seems like a lot of work. However, in the long run it will pay off; specially if you are planning to take the IELTS, TOEFL, CELPIP or any Cambridge test.


Let’s practice. Complete the sentences below using the correct word from the table above.

  1. “_____________ is in the eye of the beholder” ~Shakespeare (hint: noun)
  2. Although Maria has been looking for a new job _________, she hasn’t ___________ yet.  (hint: adverb, verb)
  3. John is a very ___________ person. He exercises every day. (hint: adjective)
  4. What’s you final _____________? Are you going to buy the detached house in the suburbs or the condo downtown? (hint: noun)
  5. I’m not going to _______________ such disrespectful behavior! (hint: verb)